Cutting the funding for a landmark support package for children in care, and care leavers, by 40% is risking “irreparably" breaking their trust and affecting their sense of self-worth, the CEO of a local advocacy group has warned.
The comments from Carly Glover of Jersey Cares come following the publication of the Government Plan, which showed the £250,000 budget allocated for the care leavers’ offer had been reduced to £165,000.
Announced in February in what the then Children's Minister, Senator Sam Mézec, described as a “landmark event”, the ‘Care Leavers’ Offer and Support Entitlement for Looked After Children’ had been developed using the real-life experiences of those in the care system.
It included personal advisors allocated to work with children and young people from the age of 14 up to 25, the option for care leavers to remain with their foster parents until they are at least 21 (and in some cases to 25), as well as funding for “the everyday necessities that any loving parent would normally pay for."
Pictured: Carly Glover rejected the argument that the offer had been "actively promoted".
The Government argued that the past eight months, during which the scheme had been “actively promoted”, had shown that the full amount of new money was not required as existing budgets were able to absorb some of this activity.
“It’s just not true it’s been actively promoted,” Ms Glover told Express. “They haven’t found all those care leavers yet., they know who they are, they have yet to promote it to them. 50% of people still don’t know about it.”
She went on to describe the Government's assertion that it was adding “bits and pieces” to provisions that already existed as "offensive."
“It was a whole new offer promised on ‘we’ll love these children like our own.' If my own children had severe mental health issues, had no educational attainment and then someone offered some funding, I would find ways to use it."
Pictured: The lack of implementation process meant care leavers were unable to “navigate the bureaucracy “ and felt like beggars.
The biggest issue with the scheme, the Jersey Cares’ CEO said, was the lack of an implementation plan, which meant care leavers were unable to “navigate the bureaucracy “ to access the offer, leaving them feeling like beggars.
“They would go to their social worker and ask them things and their social worker hadn’t seen the offer, hadn’t read the offer, couldn’t get the things that the offer said was available because other departments didn’t know about it, because they weren’t allowed to spend that amount of money,” Ms Glover explained.
“We’ve spent I can’t tell you how many hours on the most basic of things - whether that’s a person going to university and they go tomorrow and you haven’t paid the deposit on their flat or this person is moving into a flat and you’ve not paid for their carpet.
“There wasn’t a process, so the professionals were aware of it, but they couldn’t enable it to be accessed.”
The issue, she said, is symptomatic of the current Government and the lack of “independent challenge."
“It’s really simple in this case that, if you launch something very saccharine, sickly sweet, ’We love you we are going to do like a parent’ and it’s great - the offer is great, if you can get it.
“But if you launch that without an implementation plan and you haven’t told key people who work with those children or key leadership in other Government departments and there isn’t a way for them to access it, then it is not going to work. There’s a lot of promise but no process to navigate a bureaucracy, you need a process.”
Pictured: Ms Glover is not only concerned about how the funding cut will affect the level of support available but also how individuals' "aspirations, sense of worth and life chances."
Ms Glover said she was concerned that as a result of the funding being cut there was a risk of care leavers either not being able to access support once money has run out, or that the level of support available to each individual would be reduced.
But there is also a risk that the U-turn will affect care leavers on a deeper level, reducing their “aspirations, sense of worth and life chances" and potentially “irreparably breaking” their trust in the Government, despite the Care Inquiry calling for the Government to rebuild it.
“When you treat people with that experience, with respect, you help them have a sense of self-worth. But when you say to them, ‘We are taking this away,’ with no rationale, it diminishes their self-worth and that was one of the comments someone made: ‘I kind of always knew they thought this about us,'” she explained.
“People are not being promised Sky boxes or designer clothes - this is going to university, getting a GCSE, having a home, it’s mental health support if you are suicidal.
“It’s not promising the world and if it doesn’t work, it nearly breaks people, so some people don’t try because they know it’s so hard to access it."
Pictured: Ms Glover said the offer wasn't promising the world but "going to university, getting a GCSE, having a home, it’s mental health support if you are suicidal".
She continued: “The consequences for real people are they will remain in homeless hostels, alone in flats, suffering with mental health, sometimes with near fatal or fatal consequences and holding on to a belief that they’re not worth anything and cannot achieve anything; and for those who might be thriving in other areas, who might have a great job or might be at university, there’s still a lot of things you miss out on emotionally if you understand that your community doesn’t care about you.
“This is such an opportunity for the Government and the wider community to say we really care, and we demonstrate it to you with actions consistently and the positive impact of that is wild.”
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.
There are no comments for this article.