The topic of children in care homes has often had negative attitudes in the United Kingdom. The general overview of child care is that children leave care vulnerable and worse off then when they arrived. However, many children escape abusive environments when placed into care, and recent controversial risk assessment failings, such as the failure to protect "Baby P" in 2007 from months of abuse and eventual death, has prompted crucial changes in care home management, risk assessment, adoption policies and funding.
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Adoptation Rate Care and Age Categories
In March 2003, 3,500 children were adopted, a 40 per cent increase from previous years. The rate remained consistent up until 2009, and trends are generally unchanged. Of the children adopted, seven per cent were under one year old, 60 per cent were between the ages of one to four, 28 per cent were aged five to nine, four per cent were aged 10 to 15 and one per cent were over 16. On average, 41 per cent of children in care homes are between age 10 to 15, and 22 per cent of children were between the ages of five and nine out of an average of 58,091 children in care; only 16 per cent of children in care were between the ages of one and four, the age category with the highest adoption rate.
Education of Children in Care
Although children in care still receive the same education as other children, there has been evidence of lower academic achievement or bullying relating to foster children or children in care. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) stated that, in March 2003, "children in care were 13 times more likely to be expelled from school," and "almost six in 10 children in care leave school with no qualifications at all." The NSPCC also states that only "one in ten" children in care will attend university or a higher education program.
Children After Care
According the NSPCC "ChildLine" service, used by children in need to discuss issues, most children who have been in care have been subjected to some form of abuse, disturbing experience, stress or neglect. Even upon adoption, some children in care may be insecure in their new home or feel inferior, particularly if the adopting parents have children of their own. According to the Department of Health, approximately 45 per cent of children in care are diagnosed with some form of mental illness. Children leaving care are 60 times more likely to become homeless than other children and 39 per cent of male prisoners in the UK have been in care.
Care Home Promotion and Funding
In 2000, the Department of Health estimated that 5,500 children were in state maintained care homes, which receive the majority of government funding. Since 2000, campaigns have been launched by various organisations, such as the NSPCC and the "Every Child Matters" government incentive, that have promoted awareness of care homes in an effort to direct more funding or charity to improve the quality of life for children in care. Social policies protecting vulnerable children have been altered since 2007 and advertising campaigns have also been launched to encourage adoption, as well as funding incentives to families willing to foster a child (e.g., £200-plus a week for living costs to families).
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- BBC News: Baby Peter 'was failed by all agencies'
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- National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children: A ChildLine Sheet Information - Children in Care
- Department for Education and Skills: Statistics of Education - Children Adopted from Care in England 2000 - 2003
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- "Journal of Child Health"; Thomas Reuters; 2007