The Board received an update following the Josh MacAlister review of children’s social care. The review was requested by government the aim of which was to develop recommendations for a system that;
· Provides intensive help to families in crisis
· Acts decisively in response to abuse
· Unlocks the potential of wider family networks to raise children
· Puts lifelong loving relationships at the heart of the care system
· Lays the foundations for a good life for those who have been in care.
The review suggests the issues facing the social care system can only be addressed through a ‘radical reset’.
The review highlighted failures in recognising relationships and the strength of families. It was noted that Gateshead is addressing this through relational social work as part of its model and through things like narrative practice.
The review recognises the need for better multiagency working. In terms of family networks it was acknowledged that this is being improved in Gateshead through the family support service and kinship carers. The review recommends allowing kinship carers without the need for them to become Foster Carers. Within Gateshead, the Kinship Care Team is doing well at providing dedicated support to keep young people with their families.
The review recommends new care standards for all children’s homes and the creation of Regional Care Cooperatives which would be responsible for planning, running and commissioning care provision in the region. It was acknowledged that this would allow better control over the supply of places.
In addition it was recommended that a number of existing roles be replaced by more independent advocacy. For example, Independent Reviewing Officers are always employed by the local authority so the review questions how independent really is this role.
The five ambitious missions from the review are;
· Loving relationships
· Quality education
· A decent home
· Fulfilling work
· Good health as the foundation for a good life
There was also a call on a wider range of organisations to act as corporate parents for looked after children and the review suggests that the UK should be the first country in the world to recognise the care experience as a protected characteristic.
The review also suggests recommendations in order to realise the potential of the workforce, such as; five year early career framework, improving case management systems and reducing the use of agency social work by regional staff banks. The point was made however that recruitment continues to be difficult and more needs to be done on a national scale to encourage people to this area of work.
The review calls on a system focused on children and families, it recommends schools to be included as a statutory safeguarding partner and identifies priority actions such as; reduce social worker time spent recording, frictionless sharing of information and improving data collection and its use in informing decisions.
To achieve the proposed reforms a single five-year reform programme will be required and £2.6 billion of new spending over four years. In response to the review the government has set up a new National Implementation Board of sector experts and people with experience of the care system. The government is also implementing a new evidence-based framework for all professionals working in children’s social care.
A Day of Action was held in June, to which Gateshead’s Young People Ambassadors attended. This was an opportunity for care experienced young people to speak directly with decision makers about what needs to change in the care system.
Government’s response to the review is expected before Christmas and an update will be provided to the Board once this is published.
RESOLVED - That the information presented be noted.