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Supporting Children in residential and Foster Care
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Supporting Children in residential and Foster Care

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  • Oh goodness - I'm now an ardent 'Slactivist' (assuming it means 'not using the superficial and easy method to fight for something you believe in')
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  • Petitions can often sap energy. Whoever thought of the No 10 online petition service was a clever man or woman who must have known that the opportunity to sign online, on No 10's website, would draw protest from other more effective means. In the States there's a move away from petitions with some charities refusing to have anything to do with them They call it 'Slactivism'
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  • A non-partisan and well-informed view. So unlike the petitions that invade my social media on a daily basis.
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  • 1. I’ve recently taken issue with the tactics of those who have responded so critically to this Government’s decision to require local authorities to give young people the opportunity to stay with their foster parents until they are 21. This is not a minor development. When I was Chief Executive of one of the UK’s biggest children’s charities, achieving this fundamental change was one of our greatest priorities. Modest progress toward it was made with the Labour Government, which piloted Staying Put arrangements in a number of local authorities. But, in truth, there has been little recent optimism that the extension of the pilots to all English local authorities was likely when spending pressures were so acute. Yet despite those pressures, the Government has found £40million to make this dramatic change. Natasha Finlayson of the Who Cares? Trust, told the Guardian a few weeks ago that: this represents the most significant reform in a generation to the support children in care are given. This reform has not – at least not yet – been extended to children living in children’s homes. I know of no one who doesn’t want this to happen and Edward Timpson has made clear his commitment, telling the Select Committee a few weeks ago that if I thought including children’s homes in staying put arrangements was the right thing to do at this juncture, I would do it in a heartbeat. But some fundamental issues need to be resolved (not least the legal issues about an adult continuing to live in a children’s home). It is this Ministerial hesitation which has drawn such vitriol. One of the organisers of Every Child Leaving Care Mattershas tweeted of Ministers who are disgusting, and who are wilfully sentencing children to hunger and poverty. The Secretary of State who has just found £40 million to support children in foster care is, apparently, sitting in his ivory tower, blocking out the truth. This is the sort of politics which sees every member of the coalition government, but particularly those from the Conservative Party, as
  • 2. necessarily mendacious. I have never voted Conservative and I have no plans to do so, but the lazy philosophy which suggests all Tories are uncaring, is as inaccurate as it’s unfair. It’s particularly unreasonable when, in this government, we have had in Tim Loughton and now Edward Timpson, two Children’s Ministers utterly committed to improving the lot of children in care. Meanwhile, those apparently so angry at the Government have resorted to a petition to demonstrate support, collecting 5,000 signatures. But does that really do very much for the cause?Elsewhere in government, we have more than 107,000 signatures supporting a petition to prevent the sale of kittens without their mother being present, and 132,000 people asking the government to prevent holiday companies charging more in the summer holidays? That’s the problem with petitions. Even with extraordinary support there is little evidence of their making an impact on government. With meagre support, they can undermine the case for change.