Case for Change comment

Charlotte Ramsden, ADCS President, said:

“This review is a once in a generation opportunity to make meaningful and lasting change for the children and young people who need our help and support to thrive. The case for change reiterates a series of very important issues that ADCS has been raising with government over the last few years. From the value of early help, the impact of poverty on children’s lives and outcomes, the marketisation of services for vulnerable children, the slow pace of change in youth custody responses, funding and the lack of coordination for child and family policy across government. As well as highlighting concerns, which the report does well, we must also recognise the incredible work undertaken by our social workers, and the wider workforce, on a daily basis. Social workers operate within a strict legislative framework and under intense scrutiny from many different angles. Yes, the workforce must be empowered to make the best decisions for children and families, but appropriate and measured checks and balances are also needed to support this life changing work, which can be absolutely transformative for children and families. For too long external influences have driven risk averse cultures and we need to challenge this.

“We have one of the safest child protection systems in the world and it is vitally important to work to keep families together where that is right for children. However, whilst by no means perfect, care can be and is the right place for some children and we must work to make it the best place possible for those who need it. Children should not be stigmatized for the impact of their life experiences or mistakes the adults in their lives may have made. We all have a responsibility, including government, to challenge lazy stereotypes, to be ambitious about what children in care and care leavers can achieve. There are fundamental issues raised within this report, such as the contributory causal relationship between income and state intervention, along with the racial disparities that exist. The review must therefore seek to understand not only the symptoms, but the root causes and solutions, which may be beyond the gift of children’s services, such as welfare and benefit policies. We all have an important part to play, not least central government.

“The importance of being ambitious for children in care cannot be overstated. We know that all children and young people need a stable, loving environment that allows them to flourish and the evidence is clear that the earlier we are able to support families, the more likely this is to happen. Instead, over the last decade central funding for these vital services has fallen dramatically and so all too often we are now only able to intervene when problems have escalated to near crisis levels. This is not in children’s best interests and it is certainly not sustainable.

“The review calls for a vision for children’s social care, we think this must go further and be part of a coherent and strategic long-term plan for childhood, from the early years through school and adolescence to adulthood. One that integrates services at the national level and recognises the systemic barriers facing children, particularly those growing up in poverty and deprivation. Providing the right support at the earliest opportunity for children and families is key but we must also not lose sight of the child. Their welfare and rights must always be at the forefront of decision-making.”

ENDS



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