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  • Writer's pictureEmmet Regan

The government's response to the Care Review can be the first step towards fundamental reform

Emmet Regan welcomes the publication of the Government’s response to the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care.

Today sees the government respond to the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care (Care Review) with its set of proposals to reform children’s social care. The response takes Josh McAlister and his team's call to create a generational shift and promises to provide vulnerable children with 'stable homes, built on love'.

The debate over whether the response goes far enough will play out over the coming weeks and months. There is no doubt that some will look immediately towards the funding that has been provided and compare it with the original £2.6bn request from McAlister.

Resources are crucial but so is the overall blueprint to reform.

The government’s response coalesces around six 'pillars':

  1. Family Help that provides the right support at the right time

  2. A decisive multi-agency child protection system

  3. Unlocking the potential of family networks

  4. Putting love, relationships and a stable home at the heart of being a child in care

  5. A valued, supported and highly skilled social worker for every child who needs one

  6. A system that continuously learns and improves and makes better use of evidence and data.

The response takes on board that the immense challenges facing the system can only be tackled in a systemic way. This will be done by bringing together local areas and local partnerships to drive better outcomes for children and families alike. To test each pillar, the government will trial its ideas with a small number of trailblazers over the coming months.

It is heartening to see that love and stability are the fulcrums upon which the response turns. When these two are aligned is when the system can be most responsive and respectful to those in need.

Crucial to change in the system is our front-line social workers. The response to the Care Review has this front and centre, knowing that an engaged and supported workforce will provide the best chance of success. It will take the coming months for the government’s approach to be clear in terms of the pathfinders and what is achievable.

For the proposals in the response to be successful, the key will be how local authorities and their partners engage. They will need to think about what changes can be planned for now and the future, such as the creation of Regional Care Cooperatives (RCCs). Undoubtedly, leaders within the system will push to move quickly at scale. That pressure will be vital to ensure that the essence of the Care Review is hard-wired into delivery.

Our experience tells us that getting started with thinking now must be a priority. No-one will be in total agreement with today’s response but it can and should act as the first step on a journey to fundamentally reform the system to one that focuses on stability and love.

The full report outlining the government's plan for children's social care can be downloaded here.

To learn more about Mutual Ventures' work on children's services click here.


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