In 2021, the Department for Education launched an independent review of children’s social care, which has now published its findings and recommendations. The review examined whole system of children’s social care including safeguarding a child’s journey into and out of the care system, as well as relevant aspects of preventative services that are provided to children and families as part of early help.
The review has said that struggling families need early intervention from local services to ensure they do not reach crisis point. Its recommendations include phasing out young offender institutions; a drive to recruit more foster parents; a new law to protect care leavers from discrimination; and new child-protection experts to ensure senior staff are directly involved in frontline decisions.
I welcome the Department’s response to the review and a promise of bold and ambitious change within months. Proposals include setting up a new National Implementation Board of sector experts and people with experience of leading transformational change and the care system; boosting efforts to recruit more foster carers increased support for social workers including on leadership, recruitment and retention; and the implementation of a new evidence-based framework for all the professionals working in children’s social care. The support social workers receive in the early part of their careers will be refocused, to enhance their skills and knowledge of child protection.
Further, I am glad that seven areas of England will receive funding to set up Family Hubs which offer early help and intervention, in recognition of the importance of strong, joined up local services as a foundation for an improved social care system. Local authorities will also receive funding for schemes that support vulnerable children to remain engaged in their education and strengthen links between social care and education. I am aware that a National Children’s Social Care Framework will also be developed, setting a direction for the system and point everyone to the best available evidence to support families and protect children.
I can assure you that I will monitor the progress of these bold ambitions to ensure tangible improvements to children and young people’s lives.
Finally, I was deeply concerned to read about the outcomes of the investigation into Calcot Services for Children, which has revealed a series of alleged safeguarding incidents. I will continue to monitor the outcomes of this investigation closely to ensure that young people in care of Calcot Services are housed in safe and protected environments. I welcome the measures outlined in the Government's response to the independent review into children's social care to ensure children are looked after carefully throughout their time in the care system.