Our response to the Education Committee’s inquiry into children’s social care

Jessica Ford - Senior Policy Advisor
Wednesday 27 March 2024
Boy carrying teddy approaching house

In November 2023, the Education Committee in Parliament launched an inquiry into children’s social care.

The inquiry sought views on issues such as:

  • How to rebalance the system towards earlier, preventative support;
  • And how to address rising demand for services and rising council spending.

This document is our response to those questions and others. We used our submission to urge all political parties ahead of the General Election to commit to investment in, and reform of, children’s social care.

It assesses the current state of children’s social care in England and the progress on delivering the Government’s reform programme.

Action for Children - Education Select Committee submission - January 2024

Here are some of the recommendations we shared with the Committee:

1. Early intervention

  • Significant investment in children’s services is needed to ensure that local authorities can better-meet current need and deliver the necessary rebalancing of the system towards ‘earlier’ intervention.
  • To help that process, we’ve called for a stronger legal framework on early help – which could be achieved through a statutory duty or the mandating of multi-agency ‘family help’ teams.

2. Homes for children in care

  • It’s critical that the Government invests in the creation of new (additional) placements at a level that matches current and forecast demand.
  • It’s also vital that it meets its commitment to deliver national support with forecasting, procurement and market shaping to local authorities. Without those measures, placement sufficiency issues will persist.
  • However, addressing sufficiency issues isn’t enough. Measures to tackle mismatched supply and demand must be coupled with a greater focus on the quality of placements. Assessment of placement quality – by providers, commissioners, and regulators – should encompass both the child’s outcomes (while in placement, in any further placements, and on leaving care) and their subjective experience of the accommodation and care provided.

3. Leaving care

  • National reunification guidance is needed to set out a broad vision for the practice area, and recommend evidence-based approaches to reunification assessment, planning, support, and monitoring.
  • We also want to see investment in practice evaluations across England, to rigorously test the effectiveness of existing practice approaches and interventions. This will help to build an understanding of ‘what works’ to support reunification and ensure return-home stability.

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