Monday, 26 September 2011

If I were Prime Minister: changing the care system

Matt Langford, 19, was in care for 9 years. During this time he had over 15 placements and two spells of homelessness. He now lives independently. Here he speaks frankly about changes he believes are needed in the care system and what he would do if he were Prime Minister for the day.

"If I was Prime Minister, and there were no budget restrictions, I would change the support provided to young people leaving care and wishing to pursue further education; the support and prevention provided during the transition period to independence; and the intervention, support and guidance provided to children and young people in and from care with mental health difficulties.

"I think that the current system deters care leavers of 19+ from going into further education as they are not able to claim any benefits and have no income. I would change it so that if a care leaver wanted to go into further education they would have the full support from the state as corporate parents regardless of its cost.

"I think that the current system also doesn't provide young people leaving care enough information or advice on what to expect when living independently. If I was Prime Minister I would start compulsory training 12 months before leaving care. The training would provide all the skills that are needed to live independently. I would also ensure that they had the option of further training on any part of their life.

"I think that the current mental health system also let's down its service users as there is an average of 12 months waiting list for support. If I were in charge I would ensure that as soon as a child or young person becomes looked after they have to have a full mental health MOT. They should also have consultations bi yearly after that to ensure that any mental health issues are detected early, and that support is provided to resolve the problem. I would also ensure that there are no waiting list's for looked after children and they can see someone when ever they want plus providing all the resources needed to ensure the service is top."

Many thanks to A National Voice for their help with this piece.

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