Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, called for a reform in foster care to prevent vulnerable children being shunted from foster family to foster family. He was speaking in Parliament during the debate on the Adoption and Children Bill. He pointed out that the Bill did nothing to solve the problem, admitted by the Minister, that too often children are passed from pillar to post. “Nearly one looked after child in five has three or more placements in a year. Some have six or more. For these children the care system frequently fails to provide the stability they need.?

    Peter Lilley said: “One of the most disturbing aspects, which the Minister mentioned at the outset, is the frequency with which young people in care are ?churned? around in the fostering system. The Minister has not so far mentioned any way of dealing with the problem; there may be no such mechanism in the Bill. Will the Minister tell us how he hopes to minimise the damage that must be caused to already damaged children by the process of ?churning? and short stays in foster care??

    The Minister replied: “I shall certainly explain to the right hon. Gentleman how we intend to do that. Perhaps it would be appropriate for me to write to him with specific details.

    “The right hon. Gentleman is right to suggest that the Bill?s main focus is on adoption. The improvements that we seek to make in the fostering service form a substantial part of the quality protects initiative that we launched in 1998, which became effective in 1999. For the first time, we set a target for reducing the number of avoidable placements to fewer than three a year. We are making progress, and I hope that later in the year we shall be able to publish new figures showing that we are on track to meet the target. It is desperately important for us to do so.?

    Later Peter Lilley added: “This is not a party political issue. I would support sensible measures form any source to improve the lost of children in care. The present system is a disgrace: where the state takes over as parent, it all too often fails miserably. Finding better ways of helping these vulnerable young people should be a priority not an afterthought.