The All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC) recently released their findings in their report ‘No Good Options’. They launched the inquiry in February 2016 into children’s social care over the past five years with the aims to investigate whether the social care system is fulfilling its duties to children in need, and the impact of decreasing funding while increasing demand (there are now 6,470 more referrals each year than there were in 2010-11) has had on the deliverance of support. More importantly, the APPGC sought to assess whether changes were needed to policy and legislation to improve the delivery of care and in turn outcomes for children.
While the report did note increasing issues that were hindering providing care for children in need, it did not simply focus on the failings of the social care services. The APPGC reported that local authorities are facing a “perfect storm of increased demand and reduced resources.”
Therefore, they sought to identify how and why children were not receiving the care they deserved in order to effectively improve the system. As Tim Loughton, MP, noted in the reports foreword, “even when national and local government face tough economic decisions, as they do today, we must never waver in our determination to reach out to every child who needs our help.”
Linked to reaching out to every child in need, the APPGC made twelve suggestions to improve the social care system for children:
- The Department for Education and the Department for Communities and Local Government should conduct a review of resourcing of social care services.
- The Government should incentivise investment in early intervention and prevention.
- The Government should strengthen duties on schools, health services, police and other agencies, in the context of the new local safeguarding partnership arrangements.
- The Department for Education should consult on a review of the current framework for supporting ‘children in need’.
- The Department for Education should commission an independent Inquiry into variation in access to children’s services across England, and the impact on outcomes for vulnerable children.
- The Department for Education should develop a strategy to reduce churn in the children’s social work system.
- All local authorities should be required to sign a regional memorandum of understanding on the payment of locum staff.
- The Department for Education should support and incentivise local authorities to improve participation practices so that vulnerable children play a meaningful role in their care.
- Children’s participation entitlements, including to advocacy and support from Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs), should be protected.
- The Government should adopt a more flexible approach to intervening in failing children’s services.
- The Department for Education should develop an outcomes framework for children’s social care to help drive practice improvement.
- The Department for Education should work with the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) to establish a national program for developing senior leaders and a ‘buddying’ system whereby failing local authorities partner with outstanding counterparts.
It’s important that Child and Adolescent Psychotherapists are aware of this report to remind the government and local authorities that many members work in a consultative compacity to support foster carers and adoptive carers in order to build supportive relationships.
To read the full report, see here.