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Whitehall lobby group launched

A new all-party parliamentary group was launched last week to lobby on behalf of young people in and leaving care. Chaired by Hilton Dawson, Labour MP for Lancaster and Wyre, the group will campaign to improve the care system. "The aim is to get the voices of young people heard on the floor of the House of Commons and in the corridors of Whitehall," says Mr Dawson.

Education emerged at the top of the agenda at the inaugural meeting. Susanna Cheal, director of the Who Cares? Trust - a charity lobbying on behalf of children in care - bemoaned the lack of national statistics. Small studies have shown that permanent exclusion among children in care is 10 times higher than the average, and that as many as 30 per cent are out of mainstream education.

A recent Social Exclusion Unit report on truancy and school exclusion indicated that targets are to be set. "Fifty per cent of all children in care should achieve a qualification by 2001, and 75 per cent by 2003." Proposals on how this will be achieved are expected later this summer.

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