Government must act to address children’s care failings
In response to the final report of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, Mark Russell, Chief Executive at The Children’s Society, said:
‘Too many children, young people and families who need help are being failed.
‘Children in desperate need of support and protection are too often turned away by cash-strapped, stretched children’s services departments, or fail to get the early and sustained help they desperately need. That means these children are more likely to come to harm and need more costly long-term support, with increasing numbers going into care — often far from their friends and family. In care, the support young people receive also too often falls short, leaving them exposed to further risks like sexual and criminal exploitation, as well as placement breakdowns.
‘Children and their families deserve better. I am grateful to Josh MacAlister for this important review. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform outcomes for some of our most disadvantaged young people and tackle some of these unacceptable systemic failures.
‘Its recommendations are bold, ambitious and comprehensive, and there is much to welcome, especially the emphasis on boosting early help to prevent children reaching crisis point. Proposals for a better targeted response for teenagers at risk of abuse and exploitation by predators outside their families are also very welcome. We see the devastating impact on young people’s lives where this support is not available and they are sexually exploited or groomed by criminal groups into crimes like county lines drug dealing.
‘It is good to see the focus upon giving young people a real voice in decisions that affect their lives, and the proposed additional support for care leavers which emphasises the importance of positive relationships in their lives, as well as access to jobs and education. We agree urgent action is necessary to ensure enough care placements are available where they are needed, but national government leadership will be needed to deliver change.
‘While there are details which need be looked at more closely, these proposals have the potential to ensure more young people and families get the help they deserve and have hope for the future.
‘Implementing the recommendations will take political will across government departments and significant funding, and the investment proposed by the review is likely to be the minimum needed to bring about the radical change required.
‘The voices of young people must be at the forefront of the process and for their sake, the Government must act with urgency. The review must not be left to gather dust and filed under ‘hard to do’ — doing so risks the happiness, safety, and life chances of another generation of children being jeopardised.”
We also issued a joint statement with the other big children’s charities:
Too many of the children and young people we work with tell us that children’s social care is not keeping them safe or enabling them to thrive and reach their potential. Instead, services often intervene far too late, when families are at breaking point, or a child has already been harmed.
The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care must be a turning point. It provides a once in a generation opportunity to fix a struggling system and create a step change in the way children and families are supported.
Such an opportunity needs to be met with an urgent action plan from Government to implement the reforms and a commitment for ambitious, long-term investment. The voices of children and young people must also be heard loud and clear throughout this process.
This is our chance to build a future where every child feels safe, secure, and supported and it is vital we all seize it and put the needs of vulnerable children and young people at the heart of our national story.