5 questions to ask your prospective parliamentary candidate during the 2024 general election

With the general election announced and sights set on the 4th of July as voting day, many prospective parliamentary candidates will spend the next six weeks seeking to understand the needs and perspectives of their communities and constituents. This can take many forms, such as local hustings, doorstep conversations, and holding local drop-ins, all of which provide excellent opportunities for you to learn more about your candidates and make an informed voting decision.

But importantly, your candidates want to hear about the issues that matter to you! As supporters of Home for Good and Safe Families, we encourage you to engage with opportunities to meet your local candidates and ask them to prioritise supporting families and children in the care system, both locally and nationwide. To help you with this, we've identified five important issues related to children and families, each with a specific question to ask. We encourage you to choose one or two of these issues and use the election period to ensure that children in care and families in crisis are on the agenda of those who may soon be your elected representatives.

1. Teenagers

Children in care are predominately older with 64% over the age of 10-years-old and over 1 in 4 aged 16-17-years old. Yet, the care system has not adapted to be able to provide the homes, care, and support needed to meet the needs of teenagers with a shortage of foster carers and other family-based provisions available many young people find themselves living in unsuitable accommodation. We know that our teenagers of today will be adults within the next decade and we want them to go on to reach their potential.

Question: What would you do to ensure that teenagers in our communities, and particularly those in care, are supported to be able to thrive?

2. Fostering recruitment crisis

There are over 100,000 children in the care system across the UK, most of whom need loving foster carers to care for them. Yet, too often social workers are struggling to find appropriate, local placements for children to live. Over the last five years there has been an 8% decrease in the number of approved foster carers in England. This is an extremely worrying trend given the independent review of children’s social care recommending in 2022 that over 9000 new foster carers be recruited within three years.

Question: What would you do to address the current foster carer recruitment crisis?

3. Post-adoption support

All over the UK, individuals, couples and families are welcoming children who have experienced trauma or neglect into their family through adoption. Yet, we know that many of these families are dealing with ongoing challenges as a result of the legacy of trauma and are often not getting the help they need to be able to thrive as a family.

Question: If elected as MP, would you commit to seeking a 10-year guarantee of the Adoption Support Fund, and what more do you think could be done to support adoptive families?

4. Early and preventative support for families

Over the last decade, we have seen the steady decline and closure of many services providing preventative and early intervention support to families, leading to many families lacking the support and community around them that they need. The community support that Safe Families provides to families has prevented 90% of children supported from becoming looked after and/or escalating in their level of need within children’s services.

Question: What will you do to ensure families who are struggling will receive adequate support and do you agree that we need to invest in more preventative services, rather than waiting for family challenges to escalate further down the line?

5. Loneliness

One of the biggest challenges facing individuals and families across the nation is increased isolation, with more than 40% of British adults feeling lonely on a regular basis. Loneliness can not only be harmful for individuals, but can impact the lives of families and communities as a whole.

Question: What do you think can be done to ensure every person feels a sense of belonging and what role do you consider civil society to play in this?

We recognise that as Children's Social Care is a devolved responsibility, some of the issues highlighted above will be more relevant than others. Remember that personal stories are always impactful, so if you feel comfortable sharing your own stories of seeing these challenges firsthand, these are likely to be the conversations that stick in their mind.

We’d love to hear how you get on, and what responses you hear from your parliamentary candidates. If they would like more information on one of these 5 topics, then do get in touch with us, and we would be happy to meet with them or provide a briefing. Contact Sam Lomas, Head of Advocacy at: [email protected]

Thank you for playing your part in putting families in crisis and children in care on the agenda!

Author:
Nataile Mills


Date published:
24th May, 2024


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