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What is the Black Care Experience Charter?

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The reason I am writing this blog for CoramBAAF will be dishearteningly familiar to anyone working in our sector. Black children and young people are more likely to live in poverty, be excluded from school, be stopped and searched and arrested. Black children and young people are also overrepresented in the care system and as children in need. Meanwhile, the majority of senior social work leaders, foster carers and adopters are white.  

What we also know, without a doubt, from decades of research asking children and young people what they want and need when in care – is that they want support to explore, understand and make sense of their own identity and heritage. That this is necessary for them to make their own way in the world. 

This sector's responsibility matters a great deal to us at CoramBAAF. Over the last few years we, like many other organisations, have looked more deeply at our own practice and perceptions around equality, diversity and inclusion. And we didn’t always like what we found. We weren’t as good as we should or could be. 

Addressing our failings has meant working hard to reform our own equality, diversity and inclusion practice – both internally how we relate to each other, but also how we support and work with our members to make sure they have the tools they need to support children, young people and families from a different ethnic background than their own.  

As part of our work, as a staff group, we recently took the decision to join the Black Care Experience Network. Since then, we are proud to have signed up to The Black Care Experience Charter

The Black Care Experience is a network of individuals and organisations coming together to improve the outcomes and experiences – today and in the future – for Black children and young people in care.  

The Black Care Experience Charter is “a declaration of support and a set of commitments from The Workforces, to improve the Care, Outcomes and Life Chances of the Black Child or Young Person and keep them connected to their Culture, Identity and Heritage as they journey through the Care System” and with the aim of bringing to life the legal duty of care stated in The Children Act 1989 “Local Authorities are to give consideration to the religious persuasion, racial origin, cultural and linguistic background” of the child to be placed”. 

We have decided to focus on three of the commitments in the Charter, to guide our work: 

  1. The Workforces to be Culturally Competent, on every level across the Departments and Services. 

  1. Work alongside Services that are culturally specific and competent to work with the Black Community. 

  1. Create paid opportunities for Black Care Experienced Care Leavers to consult, join Advisory Groups, co-produce and deliver training to the Workforces, from a Black Care Experienced perspective while also providing support to help Black Care Experienced Care Leavers heal from the triggers that will surface and wounds that will re-open, in their quest to help bring about change. 

Some of this we have already been working on but focusing on these three commitments will help us develop a set of actions and activities and make positive change. We want to be held to account, so we will report back regularly to our members and colleagues on our progress. 

Finally, there is strength in numbers. Changing the everyday experiences of Black children and young people in the care system to a better one requires all of us to play our part. So please, sign up, join, engage, think – and most importantly – take action! 

Ellen Broomé, Managing Director, CoramBAAF