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Former care home residents lead child support efforts

AN INNOVATIVE training programme for young people who have been in council care has risen from the ashes of the North Wales child-abuse scandal.

The Children's Society's care support scheme, a 12-week part-time course training volunteers to counsel and support children in care, produced its first four graduates this week. It was set up to provide a corps of independent advisers for youngsters in the area after the exposure of long-term abuse in its children's homes.

Now, the course's success in motivating recruits to achieve an qualification - rare among young people who have been in council care -has prompted the society to offer it across the country.

Claire Owen, 19, who received her care support scheme certificate, the equivalent of a GCSE pass, on Monday, said she had left school with nothing.

She said: "This is what what I want to do. I was so confused just growing up and I want these children to feel that they have got someone who is going to understand what is going on." She said she planned to train as an independent visitor with the Children's Society and go to university to study youth and community work.

A House of Commons report published last year revealed three- quarters of children in care left school at 16 without any qualifications, compared with 6 per cent of the general school population.

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