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Children’s directors call for a resource intensive, long-term approach to working with children and families

At least 12.3bn is needed over the next three years in children’s services to stabilise services and meet increased demand in services, children’s directors have warned.

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services has produced a position statement for the Comprehensive Spending Review which states that local government funding has decreased by 50% since 2010 and funding for preventative services such as children’s centres and youth clubs has fallen by 60 per cent. However, children assessed as being in need has risen by 4.5% and there are almost 20% more children in care.

The submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review, outlines the ‘clear moral and economic imperative for the Treasury to put children at the heart of its spending plans’.

Jenny Coles, ADCS President, said: “Before the pandemic, there was not enough money in the system to meet the level of need in our communities, Covid-19 has further illuminated and significantly exacerbated that inadequate baseline of funding. We are seeing newly vulnerable families who we’ve never worked with coming to our attention because of issues such as domestic abuse, neglect and financial hardship, and escalating levels of need amongst those who were already facing challenges.

“The end of the furlough scheme in October and the anticipated recession will likely further increase the number of families who need our help and support. Local authorities are bracing themselves for an unprecedented level of demand for children’s social care, in the autumn and beyond. We need and want to be in a position to support children now and in the future and we will need increased, and crucially the right, financial support from government to do this,” she added.

The submission highlights:

- Three in 10 or 4.2 million children are living in poverty

- 45% of children from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are living in poverty

- 15 per cent of all children are receiving benefit related free school meals

- There was an 11% increase in the number of children with and Education, Health and Care Plan between 2018 and 2019, rising to 354,000 children in 2019

- It would take 500 years to close the disadvantage gap in secondary school education
- One in eight children in England has a diagnosable mental health problem

“The Comprehensive Spending Review is taking place in a very different context to any before it, all public services have been affected by the pandemic and will have competing demands. However, the Treasury must recognise that spending on children now, improving the circumstances in which they live and learn and supporting them to become adults who actively contribute to society is the ultimate invest to save case. An unprecedented level of investment in children’s services is needed to sustain services and respond to the scale of the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable children, young people and their families. ADCS estimates children’s services will need between £4.1 billion to £4.5 billion, in each year of the Spending Review. This will cost money now, however children and society as a whole will reap the rewards in the future.”

“It’s time to do things differently. We have evidence that working with children and families at the earliest opportunity, using relational, strength- based practice models works but this requires a resource intensive long term approach. ADCS is calling on government to provide children’s services with a sustainable, equitable and long-term financial settlement that enables children to thrive, not just survive in the wake of the pandemic, and prevents the need for further cuts to early help and preventative services. I want to see the Treasury use the Spending Review to reboot how it invests in children and children’s services recognising the relationship between spending on vulnerable children now and future spending on vulnerable adults tomorrow. Children and families cannot wait any longer for this,” Jenny Coles concluded.

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