Break responds to the government’s proposed strategy to transform children’s social care
2 Feb 2023
2 Feb 2023
Today, the government responded to recommendations made by the three independent reviews into the care system for children in the England and Wales, including Josh MacAlister’s Independent Review of Children’s Social Care. It called for radical change with a £2.6bn, five-year plan, stating that major reforms are needed to improve the lives of England’s most vulnerable children and families.
Following the reviews, the Department for Education had pledged to produce an “ambitious and detailed government response and implementation strategy” and have announced that they will be investing over £200m in the next two years to address these recommendations.
Measures in the new strategy includes putting relationships at the heart of the care system by prioritising family-like placements enabling local authorities to find care placements more locally either with a relative or family-friend, or in homes close to family. Investment will be made in training for extended family, befriending and mentoring programmes to support care experienced young people to find and maintain loving relationships, and a new Family Help service within schools aims to help recognise issues before crisis support is needed.
Foster carers will also see an above-inflation increase in their allowance, and there will be a two-year recruitment and retention programme to attract more people to offer a loving home for young people who need it. And the government have also said more will be done to expanding and strengthen the children’s social care workforce.
For those leaving care, the government have said they will increase the leaving care allowance from £2,000 to £3,000 to help them set up home independently. However, we know that this is not enough to furnish a whole flat and with the continuing rise in the cost of living, care leavers will still be left struggling when at 18, by law, have to leave care.
CEO, Rachel Cowdry says: "Today’s response from the government lacks not only the investment required but also the urgency by which changes are needed in children’s social care. The Independent Review in May 2022 described a broken system desperately in need of systematic change to ensure that every child gets the chance to have the future they deserve. Today, nine months after the publication of the Review, we are still left waiting for the government to be as ambitious for the 82,000 young people in care as we are.
“The outlined vision is something we can wholeheartedly get behind. Our own strategy places paramount importance on building relationships founded on love and trust, and we are also in absolute agreement on points such as the need to support foster carer recruitment and the significance of increasing early interventions. We are also very pleased to see the commitment to regional commissioning, which will allow the system to invest in the people that it supports, rather than the private care organisations who can often turn a profit. However, promises of pilot schemes and actions “when parliamentary time allows”, is not good enough. The young people we support deserve more. They deserve a better system, now.
“As ever, our commitment will be a promise of lifelong support to any young person who ever walks through our doors. You only have to spend a short amount of time with any young person in our care to know that we should demand the very best for them. We will challenge ourselves and the partners we work with to innovate, go above and beyond – just like you would for your own children.
“With the right commitment and investment there is the potential to make a monumental change and ensure there are no limits to what any child can achieve. We hope the government hears the appeals from us and others in our sector, urging them to do the right thing for the 82,000 children in the care system.”
Break already delivers on a number of these recommendations. We build trusting and loving relationships within our children’s homes and our therapeutic parenting fostering service offers wrap-around support for all carers. We also have a mentoring programme which gives young people the opportunity to develop new relationships; and our pioneering Staying Close, Staying Connected service ensures care leavers always have someone there for them. Whilst the government works on its long-term strategy for children’s social care, Break will continue with its commitment to those in care, leaving care and on the edge of care.
For more information or to make a media enquiry, please contact Break's Press Office, Nikki Neile via 07552 864214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.