Next Upcoming Event

Tue, 09 Jul 24 10:00

The worth of the residential care system - CYPN

For too long residential care has been seen as a placement of ‘last resort’ but it is a positive option for some young people, offering a safe and supportive environment when fostering or adoption is not suitable, for example. The staff in these homes work closely with some of our most vulnerable children and young people providing vital care and support, yet they are often low paid and undervalued. More must be done to raise the profile of the children’s residential care workforce and develop a more effective offer of training and support for them.

Residential care has been considered at length over the years, but little action has been taken to act on the recommendations of reviews and research to date. The sector faces a number of challenges not least in relation to the workforce. A high turnover of staff is creating instability for children and young people who tell us they value positive, long-lasting relationships with the people working with them, and a shortage of experienced registered managers is impacting on placement sufficiency. The number of children in our care is increasing as is the complexity of their needs, without enough people with the right skills, values and behaviours who want to work, and keep working, in children’s homes we cannot meet the needs of the children living in them.

The need to improve the status of the residential care sector and the professionals working within it is widely recognised and ADCS welcomes proposals in Stable Homes Built on Love to better understand and develop the children’s residential care workforce. We need to better articulate the worth of this workforce and the vital role residential workers play in supporting children and young people. Their role can be transformative but we need national government to help push this positive narrative, in the same way that they do for the teaching profession. Alongside this, the Department for Education should urgently develop a long-term children’s workforce strategy, one which recognises, rewards, and values the many roles within the children’s and wider children’s workforce.

Workforce challenges aside, we don’t have enough suitable places for children to live when they can’t stay with their own families. Regional Care Cooperatives (RCCs) may be part of the solution to the complex challenges we currently face in providing high quality, loving homes for our children, however, they are not a silver bullet. There are other strands of work that must take place to address the urgent placement sufficiency issues we face, rising costs and profiteering on the backs of vulnerable children. Children’s needs vary and we recognise that some homes will cost more than others, however, meeting children’s needs must be the goal, not profit. There is more the government can do to create the national conditions for success which must be in place before implementing its children’s social care reforms that will help us deliver for children. These include a workforce plan, a multi-year funding settlement, a more ambitious capital programme and possibly most critically a move to bring regulations up to date.

John Pearce, ADCS President 2023/24

This article first appeared in CYP Now on 26 Sept - Residential Care: Key policy developments | CYP Now

Tags assigned to this article:

Related Articles