Launch of Children's Social Care Review

This review must create meaningful and lasting for change for children and families.

NCB welcomed the commitment to a review of children’s social care in the Conservative party’s 2019 manifesto. Today, we are pleased to see the review has been launched and welcome Josh MacAlister to this crucial role as lead reviewer.

The context

Children and families have endured an unprecedented level of stress and uncertainty throughout the pandemic.

Children have been cut off from their usual support networks offered through schools and communities, which also act as a safeguard for identifying children who are experiencing abuse and neglect. The pandemic has also eroded the vital layer of support provided by professionals interacting with families in the earliest years, at a time when many are struggling with rising poverty and heightened mental health problems.

It has never been more important to ensure that the services in place to support children and families are delivering to the highest standard. 

However, we know that even before the pandemic children’s social care services were at breaking point having faced drastic cuts to funding in the face of austerity budgets. The numbers of children being looked after has risen significantly while early intervention services were being cut. We also know that recruitment and retention of social workers is a serious problem, which suggests that the impact of workload and the mental health of the workforce must be taken into consideration.

The review

NCB believes the review has the power to create meaningful and lasting for change for children and families. In particular, we welcome the review’s commitment to put the experiences of children and families at its  heart through the central involvement of experts by experience. We also welcome the focus on multi-agency accountability and the inclusion of prevention and Early Help within the terms of reference.

We are pleased to see some recognition of the role of funding of children’s social care is included within the scope of the review. However, we seek an explicit commitment that increasing baseline funding for local authority children’s services is on the table. The review will not have credibility unless the chronic and long-term underfunding of children’s social care is addressed.

It will also be important to look for synergies with the SEND review given the significant cross-over of the groups of children involved. It will be important that any recommendations consider the specific needs of children with SEND.

Finally, the review must address the different factors which contribute to children and families requiring support from children’s social care in the first place. A thorough consideration of the impact of various inequalities on family life should be a theme running throughout the review process, especially the impact of poverty on social care.

NCB is looking forward to collaborating with the review team and believe this a crucial opportunity to improves the lives of all children and families supported by children’s social care. 

Children playing with shadow on wall.