Following the publishing of Josh MacAlister’s independent review of children’s social care, the government has set out its initial plans to better support vulnerable children and families in England.
Local authorities in seven areas of England are to receive funding to set up family hubs which will be available to offer early assistance, as part of the recognition that there is a need for strong, cohesive local services in order to provide a foundation for an improved social care system.
A further five areas are also set to receive a part of a £12 million investment. Local authorities are also to receive funding to set up schemes that can support vulnerable children so they can remain in their education. This will also reinforce the links between education and social care. Help for families in crisis, decisive action in response to abuse, and a commitment for those in care to benefit from lifelong loving relationships are at the centre of new reforms that will include:
- The foundation of a National Implementation Board of sector experts and people with experience of leading transformational change
- The foundation of a National Implementation Board of sector experts and people with experience of leading transformational change, and with experience in the care system
- Working alongside local authorities to help boost efforts to recruit a larger number of foster carers, allowing children to have access to the right placements at the right time
- Reframing and refocusing the support that social workers get at the beginning of their careers, especially to enhance their skills and knowledge of child protection
- Bringing data together from across the public sector in order to increase transparency – between both safeguarding partners and the wider public
- The development of a national children’s social care framework to set direction for the system and point everyone in the direction of the best available evidence to support families and protect children.
Nadhim Zahawi, Education Secretary, said:
“This is the start of a journey to change the culture and dramatically reform the children’s social care system. Everything we do to raise the outcomes for children and families must be backed by evidence. This report will be central in taking forward our ambition to ensure every child has a loving and stable home and we will continue working with experts and people who have experienced care to deliver change on the ground.
We are ready to meet the challenges set by this review, and I will set out my plans for bold and ambitious change in the coming months.”
The Local Government Association has also responded to the review, with Chair of their Children and Young People Board, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, saying:
“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.”
Considering the efforts that local councils around the country are going through to not only increase the standard of living in their areas, but also to improve the quality and increase the numbers of opportunities that are available to their residents, this report and the subsequent work that will be done to ensure that children are given the best possible start will be encouraging to many. The fact that the Department for Education will also be helping them with £302 million worth of funding will be welcome as they invest funds and resources into their own existing projects.