Fundamental change in the social care of children
Vulnerable children and families in England will be better supported by a fundamental change in the way child welfare services are provided, guided by the findings of an independent study into child welfare published today.
The government is introducing new initial measures in response to recommendations made in Josh MacAlister’s independent review of child welfare, which looked at how children and their families interact with the care system and how it can be improved.
Families most at risk will be supported to stay together safely, with a focus on early help, preventing them from reaching crisis point.
As part of this, the government has revealed its intention to create a new National Implementation Council made up of industry experts and people with experience in leading transformational change and the healthcare system. It will also strengthen efforts to recruit more foster families, increase support for social workers, including leadership, recruitment and retention, improve data sharing and implement a new framework based on evidence for all professionals working in the social protection of children.
Seven regions in England will also receive funding to set up Family Centers which provide early support and intervention, in recognition of the importance of strong and integrated local services as the basis of an improved social care system.
Local authorities will also receive funding for programs that help vulnerable children stay engaged in their education and strengthen the links between social protection and education.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said:
This is the start of a journey to change the culture and radically reform the child welfare system.
Everything we do to improve outcomes for children and families must be backed by evidence. This report will be essential in advancing our ambition to ensure that every child has a loving and stable home and we will continue to work with experts and people with lived experience of care to bring about change on the ground.
I am grateful to Josh MacAlister for his work, and to the families, young people and professionals who shared their experiences.
We are ready to take on the challenge posed by this review and I will outline my bold and ambitious plans for change in the months ahead.
The seven new areas receiving funding for Family Hubs will build on a successful network of centers that are already operational and making a transformative difference in the lives of parents who may not have an immediate support network. Five other areas will also receive part of a £12m investment, in addition to 75 areas which will receive part of a £302m funding, delivering on the manifesto’s commitment to a network of family centres. Across the country.
Funding will also be provided to LAs for the continued delivery of School Social Worker and Designated Protection Officer supervision programs, building on successful pilot projects that have supported young people in hundreds of schools since their launch in September 2020. Through strengthened collaboration between social services and schools, they have helped improve the early identification of needs, provided better support to families on social assistance and kept vulnerable young people engaged in their education, helping to improve attendance, behavior and achievement.
To help vulnerable children stay engaged in their education and strengthen the links between social protection and education, local authorities will also receive funding in 2022/23 to continue programs that place social workers on site in schools. and provide designated protection officers under the supervision of experienced social workers. .
These measures respond to the findings of today’s report which call for more help for families in crisis, decisive action in response to abuse and a commitment by those in care to enjoy lifelong loving relationships. . System reform plans include:
- Establish a National Implementation Council comprised of industry experts and individuals experienced in driving transformational change and with experience in the healthcare system;
- Work with local authorities to step up efforts to recruit more foster families, ensuring that children have access to the right placements at the right time;
- Refocus and refocus the support that social workers receive at the start of their career, in particular to improve their skills and knowledge in child protection;
- Consolidate data from across the public sector to increase transparency – both between safeguard partners and for the general public, with more details later this year; and
- Develop a national child welfare framework, which will set the direction for the system and point everyone towards the best available evidence to support families and protect children.
Children’s Commissioner for England Dame Rachel de Souza said:
The publication of Josh MacAlister’s Review of Children’s Social Care is an important occasion for all of us who work with and for children. We must seize this unique moment to deliver ambitious reform, designed around children and families. A system that allows us to properly change the dial on their experiments and results.
While publishing reviews is only ever the first step in a process, and the ideas they contain are only good insofar as they are implemented, we should not underestimate the need take action – so many children’s lives and futures are at stake. Too many people tell me they feel let down by the services designed to protect and support them, so let’s take this chance to do better. We must everywhere be as good as the best and we must not tolerate anything less than excellent.
I look forward to doing everything I can to make this much needed reform a reality. We owe it to the children of England.
Today’s announcement builds on the government’s action to address the most pressing issues facing vulnerable young people, following a generous settlement for child welfare during the spending review last fall.
These include banning those under 16 from unregulated housing, improving standards of care, providing the largest package of social placements for children since 2010, investing millions in programs that support families in crisis and young people leaving the care system and work with experts to address barriers to children’s education.
The recruitment, retention and professional development of child and family care workers in England has also been prioritized and supported by £100m in the past two years alone. Thanks to these efforts, the number of child and family social workers is increasing every year and the size of the workforce has increased by 14% since 2017.