8 November 2016: News Round-up
IT WAS the National children and adult services conference last week and the Guardian’s Louise Tickle picked up on a joint study that highlighted the lack of data around the economic and social situation of families that come to the attention of social services. According to a recent National Audit Office report a child in Blackpool is several times more likely to be assessed as being in need of help or protection than a child in the more affluent area of Wokingham. However the data is much more complicated than that according to a study led by Coventry University’s professor Paul Bywaters, which is summed up in a neat little video in which the researchers describe the “Inverse intervention law”. I will try and sum up the issues here but you are better off watching the three minute video: essentially, if you compare the deprived parts of more affluent areas with similar areas of deprivation in authorities that have higher general levels of deprivation you find that more affluent local authority areas have approaching double the number of children in care or on child protection plans than their more widely deprived and generally inner city counterparts. This is quite different to the picture initially presented by the NAO and the researchers want to know which approach has better outcomes for children – at the moment there is not enough data to evaluate this.
CHILDREN’S MINISTER Edward Timpson announced that a new safeguarding strategy for unaccompanied refugee children will be in place by May 2017 which will include plans to boost the number of foster carers and supported lodgings providers for this group of young people. The issues around supporting refugee children and the implications of a critical shortage of appropriate accommodation for them were detailed in this report by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services.
THE MOCKINGBIRD Family Model (MFM) of foster care could provide enough support to retain foster carers who might have otherwise given up fostering, according to a report published on the government website. MFM involves a cluster of six to ten foster homes being supported by an experienced “hub” foster carer who is able to provide support, advice and respite. The report into a small-scale pilot of the approach, managed by the Fostering Network found three occasions where foster carers wishing to stop “had been averted through the provision of advice, support and respite through MFM”. It quotes one carer saying: “If it wasn’t for MFM, I wouldn’t be a foster carer now.”
AND FINALLY, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has launched a £10 million fund for projects to support care leavers and is encouraging applications from charitable organisations. It wants to help address the biggest issue raised by care leavers in the government’s care leavers strategy which was “isolation and loneliness; and the difficulty of navigating their way through their late teens and early twenties without a strong and stable social network to support them”.