Government must act to address children’s care failings says The Children’s Society

Once-in-a-generation review of children’s social care calls for radical reset

The independent review of children’s social care has published its final report calling for a fundamental reset of the system to improve the quality of life for children, their families, and those that have been in care. Recommendations seek to strengthen the protection of children, revolutionise the help available to families raising children in conditions of adversity, and make lifelong loving relationships the obsession of the care system.

In reaching its conclusions, the review started with those who know the system best, listening to more than 2,000 people who have lived experience of children’s social care, and more than 2,800 who work in the system. With the objective of ensuring children grow up with love, safety and stability, the review’s main recommendations are:

Provide families struggling with problems like domestic abuse and poor mental health with intensive, skilled and stigma free support through a new Family Help service based in trusted community settings like schools

  • Strengthen child protection through a new expert social worker role to jointly work alongside Family Help teams where there are serious child protection concerns, and boost multi agency and information sharing arrangements
  • Unlock the potential of wider family networks to raise children who might otherwise be taken into care, by introducing new measures to support grandparents, aunts and uncles as kinship carers
  • Ensure children in care have loving homes when and where they need them by launching new
  • Regional Care Cooperatives to tackle the  broken care ‘market’, recruit thousands of new foster carers who can love and care for children and provide children with powerful independent advocates
  • Pursue five Missions that ensure those who have been in care have the foundations for a good life: loving relationships; quality education; a decent home; fulfilling work and good health. Support this by introducing a protected characteristic recognising the lifelong impact of being care experienced
  • Josh MacAlister, chair of the independent review said:

“Children, their families and those who have been in care have told me that change is desperately needed. There are too many stories of lives lived isolated, unfulfilled or cut shortThe time is gone for half measures, tweaking or quick fixes. A fundamental reset is now needed and the review has produced a plan to do just that.  

“Change is now both morally urgent and financially unavoidable. We have a stark choice- keep pouring money into a faltering system or reform and invest to improve people’s lives and make the system sustainable for the future.

“How we care for our children is a reflection of our values as a country. When we get it right, children’s social care allows children and families to flourish – it can be a reflection of England at its best.”

The review has calculated that the lifetime costs of adverse outcomes of children’s social care is £23 billion each year (see here). Projections show that by 2032, there will be approaching 100,000 children in care, up from 80,000 today, and it will cost £15 billion per year, up from £10 billion per year now. That is why the review is recommending an injection of £2.6 billion as part of a five year reform programme to reverse these trends, improve outcomes and see 30,000 more children living safely with their families by 2032.