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Government’s children’s social care strategy provides warm words but fails to deliver for children and families

Published: 2nd February 2023

2 minute read

Responding to the publication on Thursday of the Government’s strategy for children’s social care reform, Cathy Ashley OBE, Chief Executive of Family Rights Group said:

“The Government’s strategy presents a positive vision for a ‘family-first’ approach to children’s social care, prioritising early family help and valuing the support wider family and friends can offer including as kinship carers. 

We welcome the commitment to a national kinship care strategy and the recognition that current financial support is neither fair nor adequate for the strains kinship families face. We are also encouraged by the Government’s ambition to ensure all children and young people in care have positive relationships they can rely on. 

However, the reforms and the funding announced today fall alarmingly short of the scale of the crisis that is gripping children’s social care. 

Year on year, more children are being taken into a social care system marred by inadequate provision which fails too many of society’s most vulnerable young people. Meanwhile, families are not being adequately supported to keep their child safely at home, tearing precious relationships apart. The Independent Review projected that the number of children in care in England will top 100,000 by 2032 without a significant change of course. Today’s announcement does not provide that. 

There is extensive evidence presented in the Independent Review and elsewhere about the positive impacts of transformational practices such as early family help and family group conferences on outcomes for children and families. Limiting the roll-out of these to pathfinders in only a handful of local authority areas risks reinforcing the very postcode lottery that the Government’s strategy purports to correct.

As things stand, the children’s social care system too often fails to prevent families’ problems escalating, leading to more and more children being taken into care. Costs are projected to skyrocket by 2032. The full cost of implementing the recommendations of the Independent Review was £2.6bn. The Government has pledged less than a tenth of this. Failure to make this investment is a false economy, given the Independent Review’s projection that a failure to provide system-wide reform and investment would cost an extra £5bn a year by 2032.” 

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