On the 4th of July, I made a speech in the Lords calling for the Children and Social Work Bill to include explicit reference to relationships. It is essential that we put healthy relationships at the heart of the care system.
You can see my speech in full and the rest of the debate here.
There is an absolute wealth of research reports, including those from the Centre for Social Justice, concluding that if we do not put strong, healthy relationships at the heart of the care system, we will never see the improvement in life chances that we are all ambitious for. At Second Reading, I talked about the need for ambition—for setting ourselves a higher standard. We simply cannot treat the presence of strong relationships in the lives of children who have been in care and are leaving care as a “nice to have”. That is not just good enough. Strong relationships are of fundamental importance to any young person in their transition to adulthood. Without someone who will provide unconditional love and acceptance, the challenges that the world presents can sometimes seem unsurmountable. Such relationships must be a fundamental element of young people’s care-leaving packages. Those young people need to know how to draw on the resources inherent in good-quality relationships; for example, how to handle misunderstandings and perceived slights, and the constant need for compromise—give and take, if you like.