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Press Release - Building a workforce that works for all children

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) today, Monday 11 March, publishes a new policy position paper setting out our aspirations for a workforce that works for all children and what is needed to achieve this goal.

A sustained period of austerity, budget cuts plus increasing levels and complexity of need in our communities has reduced the capacity of local authorities, and many other services, to help and support children and families earlier before their problems escalate to crisis point. This has left a gap in the support available to children and families who may need help, but not at a statutory level and is not conducive to improving their outcomes. It is vital that these workers are supported to forge the relationships necessary to make a difference in children and families’ lives.

ADCS welcomes the government’s continued commitment to raising the quality and profile of the social work profession, however, there has been a lack of focus on the ‘wider children’s workforce’, such as youth workers, health visitors, school support staff and others, who also make a real difference to the lives of children and families. The paper states that all those who work with, and support, children and families are ambitious about enabling them to thrive but it is only through a well-resourced wider workforce that this can be achieved. The paper calls on government to provide adequate funding and focus to develop a strong and functioning workforce to build a country that works for all children.

The paper highlights the need for government to acknowledge that the current structure of children’s services at the national level hinders effective joined-up working across the breadth of services for children and families. ADCS recommends that government should appoint a national child, young people and families workforce lead to oversee the development of a coherent workforce strategy which addresses capacity issues and ensures that adequate and up to date training is readily available for the entire children’s workforce, led by the DfE. The strategy should be overseen by a working group consisting of representatives from all relevant government departments, and other sector representatives, including ADCS.

Stuart Gallimore, ADCS President, said:

“To achieve a country that works for all children we need a workforce that does too. Moreover, children and their families must be able to access a wide range of services that meet their needs at the earliest opportunity but the funding pressures we face are not conducive to this approach in local authorities and indeed across wider public services and the voluntary and community sector too. Social workers and teachers play a vital role in children and young people’s development so it is right that there is focus and investment in these professions, but this should not be at the expense of the wider children’s workforce. There is a multitude of professions and services that are key to improving the lived experiences and outcomes of children and families often before they reach the threshold for children’s social care, from youth workers, family support workers and school support staff to health visitors and more. All are deserving of further government attention and, crucially, investment.

“Children don’t live in a siloed world and so it follows that we cannot improve their outcomes in a holistic way working in a siloed way. Currently, at a national level responsibility for different elements of children’s policy, funding and workforce is spread over multiple government departments and doesn’t enable a workforce that works for all children. There is a need to bring the system together as a whole behind a common narrative which expresses our shared ambitions for all children. We are all working with the same children towards the same goal after all.

“Beyond teachers and social workers there are a plethora of dedicated, talented professionals working hard to transform children and family’s lives and I would welcome more awareness of, and support for, these important roles nationally. We all have a role to play in creating a country that works for all children, government must play their part by investing in children and the workforce they rely on too.”

The full policy paper can be found at www.adcs.org.uk

ENDS



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