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DfE researching children’s homes workforce following CMA report and independent review

Children’s minister Will Quince has set out his priorities in response to the independent review of children’s social care and the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) Children’s Social Care report.

Children's minister Will Quince

Mr Quince addressed Parliament and welcomed the recommendations set out in the Competition and Markets Authority report into the children’s social care market, which was published in March. He said that as an initial response, he has asked the DfE to conduct thorough research into the children’s homes workforce, engaging with the sector and experts to improve oversight of the market.

Following the CMA report and independent review, he outlined his three priorities in an oral statement to Parliament:

  •  Improving the child protection system so that it keeps children safe from harm as effectively as possible.
  • Supporting families to care for their children, so that they can have safe, loving and happy childhoods which set them up for fulfilling lives.
  • Ensuring that there are the right placements for children in the right places, so that those who cannot stay with their parents grow up in a safe, stable and loving home.

“The Review is bold and broad, calling for a reset of the system so that it acts decisively in response to abuse; provides more help to families in crisis; and ensures those in care have lifelong loving relationships and homes,” said Mr Quince.

“I look forward to working with the sector, those with first-hand experience and with colleagues on all sides of the House, to inform an ambitious and detailed government response and implementation strategy, to be published before the end of 2022,” he added.

Reiterating the government’s commitment to reform, Mr Quince told parliament that a National Implementation Board of people with experience of leading transformational change would be established to challenge the system to achieve ambitions for children

Mr Quince admitted that “too many vulnerable children have been let down by the system”.

“We cannot level up if we cannot make progress on children’s social care reform. But we are striving to change this and our work to improve the life chances of children is already well underway – aligning with the key themes of the Review and CMA report,” he added.

The children’s minister revealed that the government will work with the sector to develop a National Children’s Social Care Framework, to set a clear direction for the system and point everyone to the best available evidence for how to support children and families. Further details will be set out later this year.

Mr Quince also told Parliament that he wanted to “pay tribute to every single social worker striving to offer life changing support to children and families day in, day out”. He gave his backing to the independent review’s recommendation for an Early Career Framework, as providing more decisive child protection relies upon the knowledge and skills of social workers.

“We will set out robust plans to refocus the support social workers receive early on – with a particular focus on child protection given the challenging nature of this work,” he added.

Recognising the urgency around placement sufficiency, the government will prioritise working with local authorities to recruit more foster carers, including pathfinder local recruitment campaigns that build towards a national programme.

“For too long children’s social care has not received the focus it so desperately needs and deserves. I am determined to work with colleagues across the House and with local authorities across the country to deliver once in a generation reform, so that the system provides high quality help, at the right time, with tangible outcomes,” Mr Quince concluded.

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