PR President’s Speech NCASC 2016
ADCS President’s opening address National Children and Adult Services Conference
On Wednesday 2 November 2016, Dave Hill, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) gave his opening address at the National Children and Adult Services (NCAS) conference in Manchester.
On increasing demand for children’s social care
“As we strive to create and maintain the conditions in which good social work can thrive, where social workers and others can form life-changing relationships, we do so against a backdrop of increasing demand. Later this month, ADCS will publish phase 5 of our Safeguarding Pressures research; a longitudinal study of the scale and nature of children’s social care and safeguarding activity. Here are some of the headlines for the year to 31 March 2016 to give us some context. Figures are rounded up:
- 2.2 million initial contacts were made to children’s social care of which 610,000 became referrals
- 580,000 social care assessments were undertaken and 225,000 early help assessments were completed
- There were 280,000 children in need excluding children on child protection plans and children in care
- There were 71,000 children in local authority care and 35,000 care leavers
- 50,000 children were subject of child protection plans – almost half of whom, some 23,000, were subject of a child protection plan for the reason of neglect
- There were 4,500 UASCs, although far more were supported at some point during the year 2015/16.
“Of course, this number now pales into insignificance as an ADCS themed report on unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children, to be published tomorrow, will illustrate.”
On the migrant crisis in Calais
“All of us will have been moved by the plights of those vulnerable migrants and particularly the hundreds of unaccompanied children and young people who had somehow made it to France. I pay a heartfelt tribute to colleagues and politicians in local areas hosting the six temporary reception centres, and those many councils that stepped up to provide almost 100 emergency weekend placements, the social workers, foster carers and residential staff are heroes. Thank you, you are a credit to public service and utterly child-focussed in the face of an unprecedented and at times chaotic situation.”
On supporting children in care and care leavers
“A significant proportion of those 71,000 children in care, and those we have taken into care since 31 March, become, eventually, our care leavers. And it is here that another set of our challenges, and costs lie. We can and must do better for care leavers. But how can we hope to do so whilst we take more and more children into care?
“Throughout my presidency I have talked about how local government should lead the debate about taking fewer children into care and doing even better for those children that we do take into care. To get to that turning point safely we’ve got to change the shape of children’s social care not through the lens of the government’s touching faith in structural reform, but by investing in prevention and early help. For a while of course, maybe 2-3 years, you have to double invest – money into early help and money into statutory child protection work, but eventually the balance can begin to shift. Less child protection work, fewer children in care resulting in more manageable caseloads for social workers meaning they are better able to achieve continuity in case-holding, form meaningful sustainable relationships with children and families and thereby make more meaningful, lasting interventions in the lives of children, young people and their families. Many of those interventions can then be predicated upon breaking the cycle of adult disadvantage, of improving the ability of adults to care effectively for their children, thus preventing some from coming into care.”
On the relationship between central and local government
“I think elements of central government do understand the crucial and unique role of local government as the shaper of places, places where children and young people are at the heart of everything we do. There is not only a moral argument for child-centric policy development, but frankly an economic imperative too, to ensure all public services improve opportunities and outcomes for our children, who will, afterall be the tax-payers of the future, the social workers of the future, the government Ministers of the future.
“Effective public services can only be delivered in partnership. Partnerships with schools, with health, with police, with communities and with other councils. Local councils lead these partnerships on behalf of the citizens their elected members represent. Central government cannot hope to operate effectively and efficaciously without strong, confident local government. Our staff have collaboration in their DNA, lets maximise their skills and experience in moving forward. We owe it to those we serve.”
The full speech can be found on the ADCS website – www.adcs.org.uk
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