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Fresh plans to help reduce barriers for care leavers

Your council

21 August 2023

Two children looking out of a window

Councillors are set to consider plans to treat care leavers in West Northamptonshire in the same way as a Protected Characteristic group might be treated under equalities laws, in an effort to help them tackle discrimination.

Members of West Northamptonshire Council’s Cabinet will meet next month to discuss how it can take further steps to reduce barriers for people who have been in care and can often face prejudice and challenges in accessing support.

The move follows a national independent review of children’s social care last year, which recommended that ‘Care Experienced’ should be made a Protected Characteristic in law, sitting alongside other protected characteristics such as age, disability, race and religion under the 2010 Equality Act.

WNC is among nearly 50 councils across England considering recognising ‘care experienced’ as a Protected Characteristic, whilst awaiting the outcome of reforms to legislation.

More information on how the Council plans to recognise a protected characteristic in practice and further build on its corporate parenting role to support those who are or have been in care will be presented in a report to Cabinet members at their meeting on 19 September – agenda and reports will be published closer to the time on the WNC website.

People who have been in care face significant barriers and prejudice that can affect them throughout their lives. Since we heard about the recommendations of this independent review we have been looking at how we can take these on board as an organisation to help tackle this discrimination.

Despite the resilience of many care-experienced people, society too often does not take their needs into account and this can be in any aspects of daily life, whether it’s relating to relationships, employment and education or accessing housing or health provision. Address them.

As a Council we have a responsibility to provide the best possible care and safeguarding for all those children who have been looked after by us and then to support them as they embark on the next chapter of their lives as young adults. It’s so important that as part of this we challenge prejudice and negative attitudes about care leavers and provide the support they need to tackle this themselves.

Recognising they are more likely to face discrimination and considering how we can support them through our corporate parenting role are key issues which I will be taking to next month’s Cabinet meeting for further discussion and debate that will help shape our Council’s approach.
Cllr Fiona Baker, Cabinet Member for Children, Families, Education and Skills at West Northamptonshire Council
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