Woman and child holding hands on a sunny day

Fixing children’s social care for the long-term

The Department for Education has announced that it is overhauling children’s social care to ensure that vulnerable children are better supported to stay with their families in safe and loving homes.

Thanks to £200 million worth of funding over the course of the next two years, the Children’s Social Care Implementation Strategy is an ambitious and wide-ranging way of transforming the care system. It intends to focus on reducing the need for crisis response at a later stage by implementing earlier support for families.

Three independent reviews following the deaths of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson found the current care system to be fragmented, siloed and unable to meet the needs of children and families across the country, with recommendations being made.

These recommendations have led to the new plan for social care aiming to help families stay together where possible, overcoming challenges such as addiction, domestic abuse or mental health issues. Twelve local authorities are to begin a pilot, being backed by £45 million to embed a model of best practice that will be shared more widely.

The reports found that children who grow up in loving, stable homes usually end up having better outcomes, with this driving the proposals to ensure that relationships are at the very heart of the social care system, prioritising family-like placements for children who are unable to continue living with their parents.

There are also alterations to the allowance that foster carers will receive, with this increase above-inflation to recognise the care that they provide, as well as the increase costs of caring for a child. This is compliment by a recruit and retention programme backed by £25 million of funding, which is the largest investment in recent history. This recruitment will e dependent on local need, to ensure that investment reaches areas where there is a particular shortage of placements for children.

Claire Coutinho, Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, said:

“Children in care deserve the same love and stability as everyone else. Yet we’ve seen from the two tragic murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson that more needs to be done to protect our most vulnerable children.

“Our wide-ranging reforms will put strong relationships at the heart of the care system. From supporting our brilliant foster carers, kinship carers and social workers to getting early help to families and improving children’s homes, we want every child to get the support and protection they need.”

Following this, the government has reached its target of reducing the number of ‘inadequate’ children’s social care services to 10% or lower. This is helped by the collective efforts of the children’s social care sector and the government, ensuring that failure rates across the country have been halved within five years, helping thousands of children and families.

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