As the national charity for children in care and young care leavers, we acknowledge the importance of today’s final report from the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care – and welcome the recognition that the current care system is not working for too many children and young people.
Reform of children’s social care is sorely needed – and the review identifies many of the right problems. For many years, we have called for relationships to be at the centre of the care system and we are pleased that the Review recognises the importance of loving and caring relationships in ensuring that every child can thrive.
There are elements of the Review that could make a real difference to children in the care system. We hope that the proposed new Care Standards will ensure that every child, no matter their age or where they live, gets the care and support they need. It also identifies steps towards ending the ‘Care Cliff’ that too many young people experience when they turn 18 and are expected to become ‘independent’ overnight, often well before they feel ready.
However, we have concerns about some of the Review’s recommendations.
The Review proposes a major re-organisation of the way that the homes children in the care system live in are funded and run, moving this responsibility away from local authorities to new regional bodies. We are worried this could move decision making further away from children and young people and the people that know them best.
We also have concerns about proposals to reduce the amount of independent scrutiny of the decisions that social workers make about the care and support children in the care system receive. Whilst the current system could undoubtedly be improved, checks and balances are necessary and play an important role in keeping children safe. They should not be abandoned lightly.
Katharine Sacks-Jones, our Chief Executive, says:
“We currently have a care system which is not fit for purpose and has become overwhelmed to crisis point, with more children in care than ever before. The review provides a rare opportunity to shine a spotlight on a system which is failing too many children and young people.
The Review rightly identifies an urgent need for reform, and we welcome calls for lifelong loving relationships to be at the heart of care.
There are some proposals which could make a real difference to children’s lives, including around support for those leaving care. However, we have concerns about some of the recommendations which we fear could move decision-making further away from children and the people who know them best and remove some of the important checks and balances in the system.
Now, it is imperative that the government set out how they will consult with care-experienced young people on these reforms. To effectively improve children’s lives and radically transform the care system, the government must also provide the funding and resources needed.
Become is committed to improving the lives of children in care and care leavers – it is what we exist to do. We will continue to push hard for reform that is long-term, sustainable and in the best interests of children and young people.”
We campaigned for a review of the care system since before the commitment was included in the 2019 Conservative manifesto and collaborated across the sector to encourage recommendations that are bold, ambitious, and bravely tackle the root issues of England’s failing care system.
Find out more about how we have been involved in the Review to date, the projects we coordinated that fed into the Review, and some frequently asked questions you may like to know the answer to.