Children’s social care strategy ‘lacks ambition and pace’

A new report from a House of Lord’s Committee has concluded that the Children’s social care strategy is unambitious and slow.

children's social care strategy lacks ambition, pace and fundingThe Public Services Committee has published its new report in response to the Government’s Strategy to reform children’s social care, ‘Stable homes built on love: implementation strategy and consultation: Children’s Social Care Reform 2023’.

Although the Committee judged that the Strategy has “much of what is needed to address the problems” in the sector, with the correct focus and approach, they found that it “does not represent the radical reset the children’s social care system needs.”

Children’s social care strategy must go ‘further and faster’

children's social care strategy does not guarantee long-term reformThe Committee describes the Children’s social care strategy as a “solid starting point” and a “step in the right direction” but overall concluded that it lacks the scale, ambition, funding and pace to have any immediate benefit for most children, families and staff involved in the sector.

The report states that benefits from changes made will not be felt for several years and that, even then, there was no guarantee of long-term reform.

The Committee therefore felt that, in its current guise, the Strategy represented a missed opportunity to implement far-reaching reform. They are urging the government to go “further and faster” and to ensure that all involved in the sector will see some benefit much sooner.

Their conclusions and recommendations also included:

  • The voice of children and young people are often not heard when decisions are made about their care. The Strategy currently proposes the use of advocacy services to tackle this. But the Committee suggests that, in order to be really effective, these services must be fully independent and able to hold local authorities to account.
  • The Strategy lacks detail on recruiting additional staff to support those already performing demanding roles in difficult circumstances. Ambitious recruitment targets are needed to achieve the government’s reform objectives.

Children’s social care system in crisis

The Chair of the Public Services Committee, Baroness Morris of Yardley, said:

“The children’s care system is in crisis and while the Government’s Strategy is a step in the right direction, it falls short of delivering the immediate real time benefits to children and families that we need. The Strategy is a golden opportunity, but it could be wasted.

“Vulnerable young people are being failed by the system. There are shortages of every kind of care, and children are being placed in settings that do not work for them. This is untenable. As one young person we spoke to told us: ‘I am a person, not a number.’

“The Government’s plan has much to recommend it, but unless the proposals go further and faster, the Strategy will leave many children behind. While we accept that not every reform can be introduced everywhere immediately, the Government must ensure that all children and families engaged in the care system see some immediate benefit and can be sure that significant improvements and reform will follow.

“We’ve made a number of recommendations which the Government must follow if it wants to implement the fundamental reforms required to deliver an operationally effective system and prevent a worsening of the current crisis.”

Delaying children’s social care strategy could cost £1 billion

Delaying the children's social care strategy could cost the UK £1 billionThe report comes as the NSPCC and four other children’s charities have called on the government to deliver the reforms in the children’s social care strategy.

Action for Children, Barnardo’s, The Children’s Society and the National Children’s Bureau have joined the NSPCC in urging the government to “take bold action now” across England and not to delay the reforms set out in ‘Stable Homes, Built on Love.’

They say that new analysis shows that delaying the reform programme will cost the public finances £1 billion over the next 10 years.

It comes one year after the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, which recommended immediate investment and urgent reform of the sector.

The CEO of the NSPCC, Sir Peter Wanless, said:

“One year on from the publication of the Care Review, children’s social care is still in crisis. The deep problems within the system will not go away in the next year or the year after.

“While these costs cannot now be reversed, there is still time for the government to step up to avoid even bigger losses in the future.

“The government must take bold action now to tackle this and any future government must be ready to pick up the baton of long-term reform. That is why we are calling on all political parties to commit to a full reform of children’s social care. The children and families who need vital support from children’s social care deserve nothing less.”

Training and development for those working with children

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