The first report from the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care finds investigations are taking place too readily, while “not enough is done to support families, protect teenagers or care for children who are looked after by the state.”
Responding to today’s The Case for Change report, Chris Wright, CEO of Catch22 said:
“This report presents a frank, hard-hitting analysis of the current state of the children’s social care system. It’s what those of us working with children in care and care leavers know to be true; a system that is disjointed, bureaucratic, overly risk-averse, and which lacks national coordination. This is set against the backdrop of a workforce that is underpaid and faces burnout, high levels of stress, and anxiety. With social care staff turnover so high, the stability needed for children in care is so often missing.
“There is much to applaud in this initial report, including the welcome focus on teenagers in care, which can often be overlooked. It draws on the expertise and insights of hundreds of people who have experienced the children’s care system. Many of the care leavers who are part of our Young People’s Benchmarking Forum (run by the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum) have contributed to The Case for Change – and we’ll continue to work closely with the Review team to make sure they engage with care leavers who may be harder to reach or less vocal.
“But there’s no hiding from the desperate need for serious innovation, which in itself could lead to thinking differently about how resources are used most effectively. Currently, the system is failing some of the most vulnerable children and young people in our society.”
‘The Case for Change’ says as money is increasingly spent on crisis intervention, support for families has reduced. It highlights key problems, including:
- We are not doing enough to help families raise their children. Investigation has dominated over support with 135,000 investigations (section 47 enquiries) last year resulting in no child protection plan. This is creating an increasingly adversarial system that is both less able to support parents or protect children.
- Better decision making and more support and decisive action is needed to keep children safe from harm. Professionals and parents trying to keep teenagers safe from harm outside of the home are being failed by a system that was not designed for the task.
- Taking children into care too often weakens rather than strengthens the most important relationships that children have.
In three months the review team has directly heard from more than 700 people with lived experience of children’s social care and has also spoken with around 300 people working with children and families.