Big hitters in children’s social care launch care crisis review
A wide-ranging review of the current care crisis, including the reasons behind the spike in care cases and the number of children in care, has been launched with a view to reporting in June 2018. Facilitated by the Family Rights Group the Care Review features a heavyweight group of stakeholders from local authority children’s services, academic and research institutions as well as England’s children’s commissioner Anne Longfield and the head of family justice, Sir James Munby. It will be chaired by Nigel Richardson, the recently retired director of children’s services at Leeds City Council. The goal of the review is to identify what changes to local authority and court systems, and national and local policies and practices could help safely stem the increase in the number of care cases coming before the family courts. Sir James Munby recently outlined proposals for a wider ranging role for the family court to act as more of a “problem solving court” at a lecture hosted by the Howard League for Penal Reform (TWiF 2 November).
Rise in care leavers not in education, employment or training
CYP Now reported that an extra 620 care leavers aged 19 to 21 were not in education, employment or training this year compared with 2014, a statistic revealed in an answer to a parliamentary question posed by Dudley North MP Ian Austin. The number of 17 and 18-year-old care leavers not in education, training or employment had risen by 230 to 3,290 in the last year alone.
Support more complex care cases, charity urges
Barnardo’s is calling on the government to prioritise reforms that make foster care work for the children with the most complex needs. This could involve a redesign of the matching process and the development of specialist foster placements with improved access to tailored mental health support. The organisation said that analysis of 1,482 children referred to its fostering service in 2016 showed that just 630 came with sufficient information about why they had come into care, what their needs were and what kind of foster carers they would require. Eight per cent of the children referred that year had been referred for a foster placement at least once before, due to no placement being found the first time, a placement breaking down, or a child returning home and coming back into care.
Meanwhile Children England has proposed that government establish a “Children Act Funding Formula“, which “would distribute national taxation to all authorities with
duties under the Children Act 1989 according to the needs of children in their area”. The government should implement the formula by 2020 at the latest, the organisation says.
New partner for What Works Centre
Cardiff University has been named as the research partner for the government’s new What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care. The Centre has been set up to produce robust evidence on which of the government’s social care innovation projects are most effective. Meanwhile University of Oxford’s Rees Centre has published a summary evaluation of all of the first wave of projects to be funded under the government’s social care innovation fund. It found that 24 of the 45 project evaluations reported reductions in the number of children in care.
Shropshire stumped by arrival of Vietnamese children
And finally, the Shropshire Star reported the county council’s leader Peter Nutting as saying that an “unforeseen situation” whereby a van dropped off ten Vietnamese children in its area has cost the council more than £1 million. It is “one of the reasons why the council needs to save an extra £5 million by the end of this financial year”, the council leader suggested. The paper also quotes the council leader as saying, “We are now the corporate parents of these 10 Vietnamese children. They don’t speak English, we’ve had all sorts of issues dealing with them.”
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