A new report from the Local Government Association has outlined how children’s services are improving, despite significant challenges around the country.
In a new report, titled A maturing approach to children’s services improvement: updating the key enablers of progress, commissioned by the LGA, suggestions have been raised that the level that can be reached for children’s services is currently being ‘transcended’ by more systemic challenges. This is despite the inspiring work that local partnerships are doing, as they continue to deliver improvement.
Some of those issues that are being faced by local partnerships include the fact that policy isn’t always being joined up at national level, structural issues when it comes to recruiting and retaining the workforce, a lack of placements for children with the most complex needs, as well as a need for increased investment in services.
The success of councils’ work to improve children’s services has come, in part, thanks to a “culture change” amongst the workforce that has led to closer partnership working and the voices of children that have lived experiences. This improvement has also been hinted as a potential way of measuring national policy.
💬Cllr Louise Gittins, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board:— Local Government Association (LGA) (@LGAcomms) October 9, 2023
“While councils have responded well to these challenges, what is clear is that we need to see a national response that provides the investment and reform that children’s services desperately need.”
Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, Cllr Louise Gittins, said:
“It is very positive to see that councils are continuing to deliver improvements in children’s services, and a testament to their tireless efforts to ensure children and young people get the support they need.
“However this report is a reminder of the much wider, systemic challenges faced by councils, including escalating funding concerns.
“While councils have responded well to these challenges, what is clear is that we need to see a national response that provides the investment and reform that children’s services desperately need.
“The Autumn Statement is an opportunity for the government to provide significant additional funding for all councils that can be wisely invested in stabilising the current system to ensure strong foundations on which to build future reform.”
According to the report, there are seven key enablers that have underpinned the improvements to children’s services as well as helping to maintain strong performance, with these standing the test of time since similar research was last carried out in 2016. These enablers include the need for a strategic approach, leadership, and governance, engaging and supporting the workforce, engaging partners, building the support apparatus, fostering innovation, and a judicious use of resources.
The report has also gone on to state that Covid-19 had an “undeniable impact” to children’s services, with the pandemic helping to bring new children and families to the attention of services as they may not have previously needed support. The pandemic also led to increased requirements for mental health services for both children and adults, and far-reaching consequences when it comes to the way that the workforce operates within children’s services. Alongside this, the pandemic also helped to accelerate the complexity of the needs of young people.
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