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Tue, 09 Jul 24 10:00

NCASC 2021

At some point over the past 20 months most of us will have attended a virtual event, or 27! The pandemic has impacted everything we do and the National Children and Adult Services Conference 2021 was no exception. The event was held online for the second year running.

While we had hoped we could gather in person in sunny Bournemouth, this year’s conference still offered delegates plenty of opportunities to hear from ministers about the latest government thinking and from experts in the field who delivered important messages in sessions, not least in relation to tackling child and family poverty which is blighting the lives, and futures, of millions of children in this country.

The conference opened on Wednesday with speeches from Cllr James Jamieson, LGA Chairman, Stephen Chandler, ADASS President, and our very own President, Charlotte Ramsden. Charlotte began her speech by recognising the resilience of children and families and acknowledging the immense efforts and hard work of the whole local government family during the pandemic. (As you can imagine this was somewhat of a recurring theme throughout the conference). Charlotte touched on the recent Spending Review, the ongoing SEND and care reviews, on Covid-19 and the stark health, educational, racial and geographical inequalities it has laid bare as well as the Association’s hopes for the forthcoming Education White Paper, expected in spring 2022.

Amanda Pritchard, head of NHS England, joined us immediately after the opening speeches and set out her priorities for the coming year, including making ICSs a success and continued response to the pandemic. That afternoon we were pleased to be joined by Will Quince MP, Minister for Children and Families who thanked delegates for their work to support children and families through the pandemic, the new minister reflected on the national reviews into special educational needs and children’s social care and promised to be a ‘true champion’ for the sector. The full speech is available on the DfE website. Throughout the day there were a number of interesting sessions covering topics from the early years and education recovery to the evolving nature of children’s services leadership.

Children’s related sessions on Thursday focused on supporting children and young people’s emotional wellbeing and mental health and inspection now and in the future. Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, addressed the conference and took questions from the audience. Adult
social care dominated but he faced questions on SEND and children’s mental health. We were also joined by shadow social care and education ministers. The day ended with a virtual ADCS members meeting, thank you to everyone who stayed late and joined us. On Friday, Josh McAlister, Chair of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care updated delegates on the progress of the review so far followed by a wide ranging question and answer session which touched on the impact of poverty on families, relationships, care placements and local contexts. The event closed with a session aimed at all delegates on living with Covid-19, with inputs from the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, in attendance, along with Jennie Harries, CEX of the UK Health Security Agency and Prof. Kevin Fenton, Office of Health Improvement and Disparities at the Department of Health.

A particular highlight of the conference was the strong inputs from young people and parents in sessions about the early years, mental health, education recovery and the care review across the three days. During the conference ADCS published its recent EHE survey 2021 alongside a press release and a joint policy position paper with AYM and the LGA on youth justice which can be found here. These important pieces of work were picked up in a number of national and trade media outlets including the Guardian, CYP Now, the MJ and School’s Week. A full list of press coverage will feature in the ADCS bulletin.

Nobody can predict the course of the pandemic but we hope to see you all in 2022 in Manchester, the home of ADCS HQ, to share more learning and good practice and, of course, to celebrate the work of the sector.

From, the ADCS staff team.

We hope you enjoyed the conference. Speeches and presentations from the event will be posted onto the conference website and shared via the ADCS bulletin as soon as they become available.

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