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What are people saying about the independent care review?

Find out how the children’s social care sector has responded to the recommendations in the independent review of children’s social care final report.

Josh MacAlister, chair of independent review of children's social care

BASW

“The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) welcomes the report’s stated aims: to develop and advance the children’s social care system; to put children’s needs and voices at the heart of planning; to enable professionals to work together better; to support and develop the social work workforce; and to put healthy relationships at the heart of support for children.

 “However, these changes will only be possible with an end to unfeasibly high workloads, inconsistent supervision and mentoring, and poor career and development pathways, which drive desperately-needed, experienced social workers out of the profession.

“While tackling poverty and funding cuts are mentioned in the report, the Review needs to be unequivocal in asking Government to act on poverty and the structural underfunding of preventive and universal services, which is increasing demand on social services and inequalities between areas.”

Social Work England

Colum Conway, Chief Executive of Social Work England, said: “As the specialist regulator with a view across the entire social work profession, we welcome the emphasis given to the vital role that social work plays. Social workers are key to improving our society and work tirelessly to support millions of children and adults alike. As a profession social work is without doubt one of the greatest assets that the social care system has to bring about long lasting, transformative change for children and families.

"We look forward to further conversations on how the scope of these recommendations can be applied to all social workers regardless of their setting. There are recommendations in the report that highlight the role that our organisation will play as a specialist regulator for the profession. These are complex and will need time to be considered in full. More broadly, we welcome the opportunity the report presents to have conversations with people right across the sector on how they might be effectively implemented to strengthen the support for families and communities.”

Barnardo’s

Barnardo’s CEO Lynn Perry MBE said: “The children’s social care system urgently needs reform, with a much stronger focus on early help for families, and a new approach to supporting children who can’t live with their birth parents. We now have a unique, once in a generation opportunity to make sure these children have the same opportunities as we expect for our own children.

“This review is a stark reminder that young people who grow up in care often carry burdens that young shoulders shouldn’t have to bear. They are three times less likely to be in education, employment or training by the time they reach 19, and nearly half of children in care have a mental health disorder.  

“Correcting this fundamental inequality for children in care is a major undertaking. However, if the Government can get the system right for these children, then we can truly start to ‘level up’ opportunities for everyone, right across the country.”

Family Rights Group

Commenting on the Review, Family Rights Group Chief Executive, Cathy Ashley said: “The Review’s projection that there will be approaching 100,000 children in care by 2032 is a stark warning that the priorities of the system must change and must do so urgently.

“Family Rights Group strongly endorses the emphasis the Review places on the value and importance of family and community networks in children’s lives.  The Review rightly highlights that too often the child welfare system currently overlooks the potential of family networks.  We very much welcome the Review’s recommendation that families should have a new legal entitlement to family group decision making, so families can take the lead in creating family led plans for short-term or longer-term care options for children, potentially averting the need for a child to enter the care system.

“We are delighted that the Review has made far reaching recommendations on kinship care. If implemented these recommendations would provide many kinship carers with the financial, legal, and practical support that Family Rights Group and our partners in the Kinship Care Alliance have long campaigned for.”

Action for Children

Director of Policy and Campaigns at Action for Children, Imran Hussain, said: “The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care must be a milestone moment in reforming and fixing this broken system which is letting down our most vulnerable children.

“The Review is totally right to identify that too often we wait for children to be harmed before they are offered help. The Review’s compelling big answer to this big problem is that we need to see a big switch from a system geared to putting children into care, to a system geared to preventing the need for children to go into care in the first place.

“Our own research shows that 64,000 children every year are missing out on early help services and then being re-referred to social care within 12 months. Children’s social care services need to be proactive and intervene before it becomes too late.

“Now it's time to turn these words into action. The government must grasp this opportunity to urgently reform the system, working alongside care-experienced young people.”

NCB

Anna Feuchtwang, Chief Executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said: “The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care has not shied away from the challenge, addressing knotty issues like multi-agency working, the huge and unnecessary barriers to sharing information about children, and the broken care market. Crucially, the Review has consulted closely with thousands of care-experienced children, young people and adults, and the practitioners who work with them.

“Many of the proposals are founded on a desire to fundamentally shift the balance in children’s social care towards helping families early and strengthening relationships.

“Keeping families together is the right thing to do, but also makes financial sense. Our recent evidence paper demonstrates that early intervention can reduce demand for more expensive crisis services later on.

“To deliver this new approach, the Review recommends a temporary injection of around £2 billion over the next five years by the Treasury, helping up to half a million children who require extra support.

“This may seem a big ask of the public purse at a time when so many in our country are facing hardship. But if not now, when?”

The Fostering Network

Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: “Today’s report recognises that foster care makes a transformational difference to the lives of children and young people. Recruitment of more foster carers is vital and I am delighted that the care review has recognised this. I welcome the call for legislative change to introduce mechanisms for more effective recruitment and more intelligent commissioning to make sure each child has a home that meets their needs and supports them to thrive in their community.  

“However, we must learn the lessons from the past and make sure that any new regional structures enhance and improve local planning, commissioning and recruitment. Local recruitment is key to foster care – making sure that the skills and experience of foster carers in a local area match the needs of children coming into care, so that children can stay within their local communities.

“The retention of foster carers is equally as important as recruitment and evidence from our State of the Nation survey shows this. Foster carers come into fostering because they want to provide the best possible care for children, but sometimes the system puts barriers in the way, which make that more difficult than it should be. I’m pleased that the care review recognises the success of our Mockingbird programme in removing these barriers.

“The Independent Review has concluded; now it is over to the government to respond. I urge Ministers to accept the recommendations of the care review; to announce the necessary investment and to work in partnership with care experienced people, foster carers, fostering services and other key experts to work out how best to implement them.”

Article 39

Carolyne Willow, Article 39’s Director, said: “There are thousands of children in care who are living in unregulated properties where there aren’t any carers or consistent adult supervision. Children are being sent hundreds of miles away from their communities to Scotland, and the family courts are inundated with stories of desperately vulnerable children and local authorities who have nowhere for them to go. Children who arrive in the UK on flimsy boats, without parents or carers, are being put by the Home Office into hotels because the care system has been closed to them. In every part of England, our communities have adults in them still struggling to come to terms with childhoods where they didn’t feel loved or that they mattered, and a care system which left them to fend for themselves at the earliest opportunity. The care system, like many other collective endeavours in our country, has been undermined and starved of public funds.

“Against this backdrop, it is heart-sinking that the care review’s principal recommendations are for major structural reorganisation, which will, for years, consume many millions of pounds and the hearts and minds of people who could instead be leading cultural change to put children and their rights at the heart of everything. It is depressing that, yet again, there are proposals to take away legal protections from children, and that the promise of strengthened advocacy services, which exist to make sure children are always heard and their rights defended, has been tied to the loss of other independent roles.

“The review is rightly passionate about the need for fundamental change, and sets out a powerful case for it. There are individual proposals within the review’s report which have the potential to make life hugely better for children in care, particularly for those children whose families can be properly supported to look after them well. But this will be a review remembered for the structural reorganisation of children’s social care, moving people, services, power and funding away from local authorities. At any time, this kind of major structural upheaval would be questionable. When there are children in the care of the state who are living in hotels, bedsits and caravans, it could be an unforgivable distraction.”

ADCS

Steve Crocker, ADCS President, said: “We welcome the publication of the independent review of children’s social care’s final report. ADCS has long called for a system overhaul and directors of children’s services are ready for change. The report has a welcome emphasis on children’s rights and outcomes, on social justice and on relationships and doesn’t shy away from the big challenges children, families, public services and society faces, in particular the report highlights the need for significant investment in rebalancing the social care system towards early family support.

“We want to carefully work through the detail of the final report but the focus on family help to prevent future misery and harm, on developing and strengthening our workforce, on the multi-agency nature of safeguarding, profiteering in the placements market, better regulation of agency social work as well as bolstering support for care leavers is welcome. It is rightly ambitious and offers an exciting platform for meaningful change. The report includes things that ADCS has been calling for, for years including a renewed focus and dedicated investment in family support and the implementation of the 2016 Taylor Review recommendations on youth justice, alarm bells have been ringing about the youth secure estate for some time, action is long overdue.

“Whilst there is much to support, we do need further detail to fully understand how some of the reforms would work in practice, such as a national advocacy service for children in care and regional care cooperatives. Careful trialling and evaluation may be needed before wider implementation of some aspect of the recommendations to ensure children’s best interests are not lost despite best intentions.

“We understand the government will be responding fully to the Review in due course and we look forward to working with them to develop an implementation plan that delivers for children and families to realise the ambitions articulated here. The report rightly notes that a number of other significant reform programmes are currently taking place in relation to schools, SEND, youth justice and the early years with only children’s mental health services not now having been reviewed – something that ADCS has called for as a matter of urgency. A clear vision for children and a plan for childhood to draw together these important pieces of work backed by cross government commitment and bold investment by the Treasury is needed so all children and young people can thrive.”

Local Government Association

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said: “There is much to support in this review, which is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform the systems we have in place not only to keep children and young people safe, but to help them thrive.

“It reflects many longstanding calls from councils, including an increased focus on family help, more support to keep children with their families wherever possible, and making sure children in care and care leavers are well supported with loving homes and lifelong relationships.

“We are also pleased the report recognises councils are best placed to deliver these services for local families and works to build on the good practice that already exists.

“We now want to work quickly with government and partners on identifying elements of the report we can and should swiftly implement, and on planning the medium-to-long term reform process. This must include commitment from across Whitehall to tackle the issues children’s social care cannot solve alone, including access to health services and ending child poverty.

Commission on Young Lives

Anne Longfield, Chair of the Commission on Young Lives, said: “The independent review of children's social care provides the Government with an ambitious and affordable plan to improve a system that is broken, financially unsustainable, and failing far too many vulnerable children.

“The years of papering over the cracks and hoping for the best cannot continue. This is a once in a generation chance to build a better children's social care system that provides protection to every child at risk from harm, and gives every child in care the support they need to thrive and succeed.

“I hope the Secretary of State for Education will embrace these proposals and set out quickly how the Government plans to deliver this vital public sector reform.

“Failing to do so is no longer a financial or moral option.”

Independent review into children’s social care final report

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