'There is no real care involved'

Image caption Miss Grinham said it was hard to recall all her placements during five years in care

A report on the care system in England and Wales has highlighted failings in support for some of its most vulnerable children, the 3,000 or so supervised by youth offending teams after being in trouble with the law.

Former care home resident Sophie-Eliza Grinham, 20, who now lives in Bromley, Kent, describes how her experiences contributed to her falling into crime:

"I was in care from the age of 13, and like many young people was placed in many different children's homes.

"The provision of care I received in all of these settings was shockingly low. The impact of living without a loving, caring family and living within an institutionalised setting with workers who really couldn't care less, had an impact on my emotional development.

"I also fell into the offending cycle, and the criminal convictions I now have from the age of 13 still hold me back when trying to gain employment.

"I had several criminal convictions mainly relating to a drinking problem I developed from a young age, drinking caused by the upheaval from being in care. These convictions ranged from assaulting a police officer to criminal damage and public order offences.

"I feel I was very lucky though because I had a wonderful youth offending officer who really understood where I was coming from, and held high expectations for me. She was more like the second mum I needed.

"It really is disgusting that as a society we allow these children to be placed in such unloving 'care' settings, just to tick boxes.

"There is no real care involved - and as a society we do this to children and then expect them to grow up into reasonable adults.

"There are big numbers of children in the care system who end up with no GCSEs, no qualifications, severe mental health problems and end up offending as a way of life - this says it all really.

"Even if there are plans to improve care homes, they can't be improved enough - nothing can act as an effective substitute for a loving family.

"People give up on 'naughty' children far too easily. I was one of the lucky ones and, without any help at all from the local authority, I am now in my second year of university, studying youth work."

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