Fostering is not the only part of the child care system in crisis ("Fostering system on the brink as number of children in care soars", 6 May). Children's homes also face increasing problems.
Some young people need and prefer such homes over family-based care. At any time, 6,500 young people with complex and enduring and often serious life experiences are in children's homes in England. Yet these homes are treated as a residual rather than positive option.
Our survey shows that local authorities, are not always working to maximise effective care, but to minimise costs. Central government initiatives are piecemeal and peripheral and too often simply divert skilled professionals to paperwork concerned with reducing fees to unsustainable levels.
We are deeply concerned about the reality gap between young people's needs and the perils of government inaction. The focus on "things that matter" in the Queen's Speech must not be another repackaging, but should prioritise meeting the needs of the neediest.
Independent Children's Homes Association
The introduction of the Groceries Adjudicator Bill to Parliament is a welcome boost for millions of farmers across the world who produce goods for British retailers ("Coalition looks to open new chapter", 6 May). Yet the Bill contains a major flaw, as it does not empower the adjudicator to fine supermarkets that mistreat suppliers.
The Government believes that the threat of "naming and shaming" retailers will be enough, but more than 10 years of negative media reports on supermarkets' unethical practices suggest this won't be the case. The Government must stand up to the retail lobby and give the watchdog teeth, otherwise we'll be lumbered with a poodle whose bark is worse than its bite.
Policy adviser, ActionAid
I have a somewhat jaundiced view of us Brits being a nation of animal "lovers" ("Pampered pets", 6 May). Animal owners yes – until the novelty wears off. That is why sanctuaries are filled to the gunnels with horses, cats, dogs, small mammals, birds and reptiles. A loved pet should be given what they need and that takes time, work and dedication – a dog walked every day, a cage cleaned out regularly. Time is, all too often, in short supply so the animal becomes unwanted, uncared for, lonely, bored or worse. I know – for over the years I've taken on many rescued animals, even a half-starved tortoise.
Mark Boleat, the City of London Corporation's policy chairman, promises to get tough on protesters in the City ("Beyond the City limits", 6 May). But who are the real protesters? The Occupy movement that represents victims of the financial crisis, or the Corporation, which lobbies against banking regulation on behalf of the financial services sector?
I can't understand why Katy Guest is thanking Helen Mirren "for giving the OK for 'grumpy anti-monarchists' to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee" (6 May). If you are a republican, then it is hypocritical to celebrate an event for an institution you don't believe in. Animal rights activists do not go to a hunt ball, do they?
I agree with Christopher Wren about the disappearance of the "our lady" graphic from "The Critics" (Letters, 6 May). The new layout of The IoS is excellent, but you have dehumanised that section, and I would welcome a campaign to bring "our lady", and her chair, back where she belongs.
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