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Consultation response on powers to delegate children’s social...

This ten point summary is based on consultation undertaken by the ADCS with its members.

It highlights key principles that should characterise any framework for delegation of children social care functions. A fuller document exploring these and other points is attached. If the decision to delegate functions is confirmed by government, we believe there will need to be consultation on new regulations and guidance for local authorities and potential providers to ensure a secure and transparent basis for protecting children is in place.

1. A local authority’s duty of care to children is non-delegable, but its functions are. ADCS believes services designed to protect and keep safe children and young people should be funded adequately to ensure they are effective, timely and efficacious. These services should not be predicated on a profit motive.

2. Parliament has given the Secretary of State power to withdraw functions relating to the delivery of social care from local authorities. Consultation is taking place on allowing local authorities to voluntary arrange for an external body to deliver some or all social care functions.

3. Decisions about the delivery of services for children are best made by a local authority in the light of local circumstances and context.

4. Children services, of all types, are delivered principally by local authorities. In many cases this includes provision made by commercial and or voluntary sector providers.
5. Decisions taken about a child’s life should only ever be based on what is in the best

interests of the child as assessed by skilled and qualified social workers and the courts system. These decisions cannot, and must not, be subordinate to the pursuit of financial profit.

6. There is, and must continue to be, a clear single point of accountability at local authority level for the discharge of functions for children even if a local authority commissions an external provider to deliver its functions.

7. This accountability must cover all decisions relating to the legal status of a child or young person.

8. A local authority has to remain accountable for the delivery of social care services to children. In the event of voluntary delegation, this must be explicit in the commissioning and contractual arrangements.

9. External providers, including if they emerge provider chains, of social care services for children should be subject to inspection by Ofsted, as is the case for a local authority, as should the authority’s arrangements for contracting and commissioning those services.

10. A local authority should have the power to provide the social care services for children outside its area if chosen to do so by a host authority.

We repeat that these points are predicated on there being further consultation of the underpinning regulations that will be required to support any delegation of functions. It is the detail of these that will need to specify the precise nature of accountability for decision making in respect of children and young people. Our members have correctly identified the complexities relating to decisions about a child including, their looked after status; their placement; and long term planning. In addition clarity about accountability is necessary for the single inspection framework to be able to assess and report on the quality and impact of the provision being made and the relative contribution of commissioners and providers. Without good regulation and guidance there would be a risk to the prime consideration that a child or young person’s needs should always be the principal point in any decision taken about their future life.

View full response here.

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