The government is to set out new measures to overhaul children’s social care in response to recommendations set out in Josh MacAlister’s independent review of the current system.
MacAlister also told the Times that the government ought to push for “big change” by adding people who have been in social care to the Equality Act.
Following his report’s publication, the government has revealed plans to set up a new National Implementation Board of sector experts and people with experience of leading transformational change and the care system. It will also boost efforts to recruit more foster carers, increase support for social workers including on leadership, recruitment and retention, improve data sharing, and implement a new evidence-based framework for all the professionals working in children’s social care.
Seven areas of England will also receive funding to set up family hubs which offer early help and intervention.
Local authorities will also receive funding for schemes that support vulnerable children to “remain engaged in their education”.
Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi, said: “This is the start of a journey to change the culture and dramatically reform the children’s social care system.
“Everything we do to raise the outcomes for children and families must be backed by evidence. This report will be central in taking forward our ambition to ensure every child has a loving and stable home and we will continue working with experts and people who have experienced care to deliver change on the ground,” he went on.
Seven new areas will receive funding for Family Hubs, and a further five areas will receive part of a £12 million investment, in addition to the 75 areas that will receive part of a £302 million pot of funding.
Funding will also be provided to LAs for continued delivery of the Social Workers in Schools and Designated Safeguarding Lead Supervision programmes, building on successful pilots which have supported young people in hundreds of schools since launching in September 2020. Through strengthened working between social care and schools, they have helped improve early identification of need, provided better support for families from social care, and kept vulnerable young people engaged with their education, helping to boost attendance, behaviour and attainment.
To support vulnerable children to remain engaged in their education and strengthen links between social care and education, local authorities will also receive funding in 2022/23 to continue schemes that put social workers onsite in schools and provide designated safeguarding leads with supervision from senior social workers.
Plans to reform the system include setting up a National Implementation Board of sector experts and people with experience of leading transformational change, and with experience of the care system;
The government also say they will working with local authorities to boost efforts to recruit more foster carers, and refocusing the support social workers receive in the early part of their careers especially in relation to child protection;
The government says that there will be better joining up of data from across the public sector to increase transparency- plans it vows to set out in more detail later this year.
A National Children’s Social Care Framework is also set to be organised.
Welcoming the report, Mark Russell, chief executive at The Children’s Society, said that the reports’ recommendations” are bold, ambitious and comprehensive, and there is much to welcome, especially the emphasis on boosting early help to prevent children reaching crisis point.
“Proposals for a better targeted response for teenagers at risk of abuse and exploitation by predators outside their families are also very welcome. We see the devastating impact on young people’s lives where this support is not available and they are sexually exploited or groomed by criminal groups into crimes like county lines drug dealing.
“It is good to see the focus upon giving young people a real voice in decisions that affect their lives, and the proposed additional support for care leavers which emphasises the importance of positive relationships in their lives, as well as access to jobs and education. We agree urgent action is necessary to ensure enough care placements are available where they are needed, but national government leadership will be needed to deliver change.”