In this blog, Yvette Stanley, our National Director for Social Care, talks about this week’s Care Experienced Conference reports.
In April this year, I was lucky enough to attend the first Care Experienced Conference, held at Liverpool Hope University. The conference was unprecedented: conceived, planned and organised by care-experienced people and a small band of supporters. It gave voice to well over a hundred representatives of the care-experienced community. It’s no exaggeration to say that people had travelled from all corners of the globe to be there.
It was a hugely affecting event: uplifting, moving, inspiring and humbling in equal measure. Along with my Ofsted colleague Matthew Brazier, I was privileged to be among the small number of non-care-experienced individuals there on the day.
There were undoubtedly a number of delegates in Liverpool that day who have good reason to feel angry and upset about their experiences of the care system. The event, I’m sure, will have stirred up mixed emotions for many. But the overriding mood of the conference was positive. There was a sharp focus on how things can change for the better, in the interests of those who are currently in care or who have more recently been in care.
Messages from the conference
Now, a few short months later, the Care Experienced Conference team has published several reports. These reports set out the top 10 messages of the day.
Some things that stood out to me include:
- the importance of love and lasting relationships and children having a say in what happens in their lives; this features strongly
- people need to know about and be helped to understand what has happened to them;
- the prevailing message that the impact of being in care was life-long and should be recognised as such
I do not want to summarise the reports in any further detail here. Anyone interested in making care as good as it possibly can be will want to read the reports themselves. I urge you do so. The conference and the reports published this week capture the authentic, reasoned voice of the care-experienced community. We are grateful for these messages and will take them on board.
Taking the messages back to work
At Ofsted, one of our main principles is to focus on what matters most for children. I know we can do more to make sure that the views of those with experience of being in care routinely and properly inform inspection and regulation.
We’ll continue to work towards that aim by looking at our own national and regional engagement with care-experienced people and through our inspection and regulation of social care providers.
The Care Experienced Conference has reminded us, and everyone else across the country who has some responsibility for children in care, how urgently we need to get this right.
Yvette Stanley is Ofsted's National Director for Social Care. Follow Yvette on Twitter. Keep up-to-date with social care news at Ofsted by signing up for email alerts. You can also follow Ofsted on Twitter.