From education to employment

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State makes speech outlining role of state

Government policy for care-leavers is based on a system which recognises a 16 year-old as an adult, according to a speech made earlier this week.

Parmjit Dhanda, Under Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families, pointed to research apparently showing that most young people do not permanently leave the family home until the age of 24. “We still have a care system based on the presumption that sixteen year-old care leavers are now adults who need little further guidance”, he said.

“But at any one time 30% of care leavers leave school with no future plans for education, or work, or training. This is something we have to change”.

He made reference to the Secretary of State for Education’s pledge of at least £2000 for care leavers if they attend university. Accordingly: “The roots of care leaver underachievement can be traced back to the difficulties they faced as younger children in local authority care. The 5% of care leavers in University are drawn from only 9% who obtained 5 A-Cs at GCSE, as compared to 53% of all children”, Mr Dhanda continued.

“We as the state are proxy parents; parents for 60,000 children. And we haven”t always been very good parents. We force too many of our children into adult life when they are too young, without any adequate preparation. Sometimes we even encourage them to leave stable placements before they are ready”.

Speaking on the launch of “What Makes The Difference?” (WMTD) Mr Dhanda outlined the future for care leavers, citing Gloucester as an example: “I know that Gloucester WMTD intends to involve employers in the crucial role of investing in young people’s futures in a way that will bring benefit to them, to local business and to all of us”.

“I know that this is something that we will be hearing more about from other speakers”, he continued. “Employers here today, you can send a message that care leavers should aspire to work at your companies, maybe in the future to even to have your jobs!”

“[WMTD] helps to empower care leavers [and] we would like every care leaver in the country to be given opportunities, as people in this room have been”, Mr Dhanda added.

Vijay Pattni.

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