A recently published report into the child welfare system has highlighted issues with the existing Children’s Social Care and Family Justice Sector and has put forward several suggestions for change.
The Care Crisis Review, which was funded by Nuffield Foundation and facilitated by Family Rights Group, explored the reasons why the number of children in care reached the highest level since the Children Act 1989 was enacted and why care order applications reached record levels in 2017.
It found that:
- There is a sense of crisis felt by many young people, families and those working within the system.
- Professionals are frustrated at working in a sector that is overstretched and overwhelmed and in which, too often, children and families do not get the direct help they need early enough to prevent difficulties escalating.
- There was a palpable sense of unease about how lack of resources, poverty and deprivation are making it harder for families and the system to cope.
Despite these concerns however, the Review found that the child welfare legislative framework is basically sound. It also found common agreement about the way forward, with a consensus that relationship building has been and is at the heart of good practice.
“Dealing with the crisis is complex – inevitably so, because children and families live increasingly complex lives,” commented Nigel Richardson, Chair of the Review. “But making the difference cannot be just about constant re-structures, or ever changing systems – the fundamental basis of our child welfare approach is encouragingly sound.”
“The way forward has to be about working with complexity to offer hope,” he said. “Offering an inclusive approach to family decision making so that families are helped to better understand the concerns about a child’s welfare and then helped to coordinate and propose a safe response to those concerns from within their own, usually extensive, family and friends network.”
“It’s about moving away from an over reliance on the language of assessment and intervention and more towards understanding and helping,” he added. “It’s about being less adversarial, risk averse and harsh and much more collaborative and kind.”
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