Care Day 2023: What I want you to #KnowAboutCare …

February 17, 2023

By Celestine Greenwood

Exchange Chambers, the leading family set outside of London, is a strong supporter of their clients, their families, and other organizations, professionals, and carers. Today, 17th February, we too recognize Care Day and join in celebrating the achievements of young people and children with experience of living in care.

Become[1], a leading charity advocating for children with experience of living in care in England has set this year’s theme as “What I want you to #KnowAboutCare …” Its aim in doing so is to “challenge common misconceptions about care and tackle the stigma and prejudice that care-experienced young people face by amplifying the views and voices of young people themselves.”[2]

Several of the other 8 organisations[3] that now form the collective advancing the Care Day initiative, such as the Create Foundation in Australia,[4] have adopted the theme “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover, Embrace our Stories Instead.”

Both themes have at their core the impetus to engage the public in listening to the stories of children and young people and remembering that every care-experienced child and young person is an individual with their own story, and ambitions and dreams for the future – they, and all children, deserve to be loved, cared for, nurtured and supported to be who they want to be and to be the best version of themselves.

At Exchange Chambers, members of our Family Team often have the privilege of representing children and young people. Legal proceedings can include ‘care proceedings’ the result of which might be that a child or young person is removed from their family and cared for on a long-term basis by the State, the so-called ‘corporate parent.’ This can mean living in foster families or in residential homes of some kind. In other types of family law proceedings, we represent children and young people who are already living in these and other care environments.

In  doing so Exchange Barristers have a privileged insight into the adversities suffered by some children and young people, including abuse and neglect. We are involved with them through weeks, months, and sometimes years, of proceedings where the most intimate details of their lives are formally discussed. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see them heal and thrive in a loving home. Exchange Chambers anticipates that all of us who have had the honour, and duty, of representing children and young people who experience living in care will add their voices to today’s celebration.

However, without wishing to detract in any way from the celebration there are some things what I, simply a lawyer who has had the honour to represent many children, want you to know about the care system:

  • As at 31st March 2022 there were 82,170 children in care in England alone;
  • 37% of that number were aged under 10, 39% were aged 10 to 15, and the remaining figure were young people were aged 16 to 18;
  • In 2021/2022 almost a third of all children in care experienced a change of ‘home’ two or more times in the year;
  • 1 in 10 children lived in three or more placements (homes) in their first twelve months of being ‘cared for’ by the State;
  • Young people ‘age out’ of care on their 18th birthday and are expected to live independently. This is in stark contrast with Office of National Statistics data that the average age for young people to leave the parental home is nearly 25.[5]

These statistics do not even begin to examine the general difference between children in care and those cared for by their parents or family member in terms of educational achievements or other markers of wellbeing.

Last year saw the publication of the findings of three independent reviews into the care of children by the state:

  • Josh MacAlister’s Independent Review of Children’s Social Care[6]
  • The Competition and Markets Authority report on children’s residential homes[7]


  • The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel report into the murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson[8]

Each of these reviews highlighted the existing deficits in both the child protection and children’s social care systems and, the ways in which our children are in some respects being failed and in others certainly not being given the care, opportunities, and support that they need and deserve.

In response the Government issued its draft strategy, “Stable Homes, Built on Love,” on 2nd February. The strategy is open until 11th May this year for consultation.  The Government is inviting views on

  • support and protection for children and families
    • support for kinship carers, and wider family networks
    • reforms to the experience of being in care, including corporate parenting
    • support for the workforce
    • delivery and system reform

Whilst those of us who have not lived in care cannot add our own experiences to the voices being amplified today, those of us involved in legal proceedings about children and young people in care can make a not insignificant contribution to advancing and improving their experiences by engaging in the consultation; we have an enduring duty to be their advocates.

It has truly been a privilege and an honour to be a voice for children. I hope that I am continuing to fulfil my duty to children by responding to the Government consultation –  I encourage others to do so as well!



[3] These are: EPIC in Ireland, VOYPIC in Northern Ireland, Who Cares? Scotland, Voices from Care in Wales, Fepa in Spain, Fice in Croatia, Voyce in New Zealand


[5] For these statistics see Become at,in%20care%20in%20Northern%20Ireland