Care experienced children and young people given ‘protected characteristic’ status

Leicestershire County Council and councillors have committed to making being ‘care experienced’ a protected characteristic

Councillor Nick Rushton, Councillor Deborah Taylor, care leaver Dan and more after the county council meeting

A move has been made to ensure children and young people in Leicestershire who are care experienced face less of a disadvantage in life.

Leicestershire County Council has committed to making being ‘care experienced’ a protected characteristic, following a unanimous vote by councillors.

It recognises that experience of being a child in care can be a potential source of discrimination similar to other protected characteristics under the Equalities Act, such as race or disability.

This includes discrimination which results in results in disproportionate negative outcomes across a range of areas such as employment, education and exposure to the criminal justice system.

Following a motion made at its meeting on Wednesday (21 February), members agreed that when making decisions and developing services and policies, the impact on children and young people in care, as well as ‘care leavers’, should always be considered, and their voices heard when formulating them.

Councillor Deborah Taylor, county council cabinet member for children and families who proposed the motion, said: “We have a responsibility to provide the best possible care for the young people we care for. We want to make sure that our children get the same opportunities in education, employment, housing and more as other young people. However, we know that people who have been in care are more likely to face disadvantage and discrimination in life.

“I’m proud to have been part of this motion to make sure that no child with care experience is discriminated against, and that they have every opportunity to live fulfilling and successful lives without barriers.”

Dan, a Leicestershire care leaver, said: We’ve been working in the After Care Council on this for months and it means a lot because we’ll be taken more seriously when we are in certain situations, because professionals will listen to us.”

The council currently supports 728 children in care and 442 care leavers aged 18-25 years. The authority works with children and young people to support them towards independence, providing them with a range of help, including a personal advisor, financial advice and support in securing housing, employment or pursuing further education.

The motion will also mean that those who have experienced care in Leicestershire over this age will also benefit from the recognition of care experience as a protected characteristic.

The council now joins 80 other local authorities who have also voted to make being care experienced a protected characteristic.

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