A report from Barnardo's the children's charity says that too few councils are appointing mentors to children in care.
The Children and Young Persons Act 2008 amended the Children Act 1989 so as to require local authorities to appoint an "independent person" or mentor to visit, befriend and advise a child in care. However this is only where this is in their "best interests" and the independent person is unpaid.
Local authorities may also be required to appoint personal advisers for young people between 18 and 25.
Research by the charity last year suggested only 3% of looked-after children were matched with a mentor. This is despite evidence that children welcome the appointment of independent people.
Local authorities concede that there is an urgent need to recruit more volunteer mentors.
Barnardo's have urged local authorities to set up a new quality standard:-
All children in care should have an allocated social worker. However in practice that social worker will be responsible for perhaps 20 to 30 children. Their time and resources are limited. Regrettably some children in care find it difficult to put their trust in a social worker, particularly when that worker changes from year to year, and where they harbour a resentment against the local authority for intervening in their family life.
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