Social Services: Children

(asked on 20th November 2023) - View Source

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Josh MacAlister The independent review of children’s social care, published on 23 May 2022; and what progress they have made in improving council-run homes in the children’s social care system given the findings of that report.

Answered by
Baroness Barran Portrait
Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
This question was answered on 4th December 2023

In February 2023 the department published its consultation and implementation strategy, ‘Stable Homes, Built on Love’. This sets out the department’s plans for a system-wide transformation of children’s social care, and details how the department will help families overcome challenges, keep children safe, and make sure children in care have stable loving homes, long-term loving relationships, and opportunities for a good life.

To support local authorities to meet their statutory duty to ensure there is sufficient provision for children in their care, the department has announced £259 million capital funding to maintain capacity and expand provision in both secure and open children’s homes that provide high-quality, safe homes for some of the most vulnerable children and young people across England. The department has allocated a portion of the £259 million capital funding to open children’s homes enabling a total of 69 projects to be delivered, which will create an additional 350 beds across this sector.

The department has also committed to developing a core overarching set of Standards of Care for fostering, children’s homes, and supported accommodation. This will help simplify the regulatory landscape, raise quality, and ensure there are consistent safeguards across different types of settings.

The department will develop a programme to support improvements in the quality of leadership and management in children’s homes, including exploring proposals for a leadership programme to attract and train new talent.

In addition, the department is investing £10 million to develop Regional Care Co-operatives (RCCs) to plan, commission and deliver children’s social care placements. Through operating on a larger scale and developing specialist capabilities, the RCCs will be able to develop a wider range of places to meet children’s needs better.

The department is also making good progress on addressing challenges relating to the retention and recruitment of social workers, which is key to supporting the delivery of the wider children’s social care reforms. This includes introducing an Early Career Framework to better support newly qualified social workers to meet the challenges of child and family social work, increasing the number of social worker apprenticeships, and supporting local authorities with their retention and workload challenges. Alongside ‘Stable Homes, Built on Love’, the department also published a consultation on a set of rules for local authority engagement of agency child and family social workers. The response to this consultation was published on 25 October 2023 and sets out a set of national rules intended to increase workforce quality and sustainability. The department will consult on statutory guidance on the technical detail in Spring 2024. These reforms are in addition to the department’s £50 million annual investment in recruiting, training and developing the workforce.

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