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29.10.15

Cameron launches independent ‘root-and-branch’ review of children’s homes

Prime minister David Cameron has ordered an independent “root-and-branch” review into children’s residential care to improve service commissioning, delivery and regulation.

The review will be headed by Sir Martin Narey, former head of the Prison and Probation Services in England and Wales and CEO of children’s charity Barnardo’s, who said: “Some of the best social work I’ve seen has taken place in residential homes, carried out by some outstanding staff. And yet there are doubts about whether we use residential care for the right children and frequent disquiet about children’s transitions to adulthood.

“I am anxious to hear from staff, children, care leavers and those with experience of this sector.”

There are 8,000 children and young people in children’s homes, which get £1bn of annual council funding, according to the government.

But these vulnerable children are statistically less likely to excel in school and more likely to be absent, excluded, or take part in risky behaviour than their classmates due to a background of neglect and abuse.

Narey will therefore assess which children should be in residential care and how the service can be improved at Whitehall’s end.

He will analyse the role of children’s homes within the care system (including when, and for which children, it should be used), what works within residential care, and what improvements can be made to their commissioning, delivery, regulation and inspection.

He will report back to education secretary Nicky Morgan MP and the prime minister in spring 2016.

Morgan said: “I am crystal clear that only the very best should be acceptable for children and young people in care. I want to shine a spotlight on what works, identify barriers to success and end those practices that are holding these children back from a life full of opportunity.

“It is our moral duty to create a care system where all children have access to high-quality care that meets their specific needs. I am confident that Sir Martin’s review will help make this ambition a reality.”

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