The Looked-after Children report published 20 April 09 by the Children, Schools and Families Committee rightly highlights the lack of consensus about the purpose of the care system in supporting vulnerable children, in particular how it might develop as “an integral part of a continuum of effective family support services.”
The report’s emphasis on the need to address social care workforce issues – recruitment, training, pay and support – echoes comments made by LGiU/CSN following the publication of Lord Laming’s report on safeguarding in March. It reinforces the approach for social workers to be freed up to work with families, the implementation of social pedagogy favoured in Scandinavia and the importance of prevention to reduce child misery and improve outcomes for children, young people and families.
The report provides a useful basis for local authorities to take stock of their care provision, assess whether they are investing sufficiently in early intervention and prevention, and consider how other partner organisations can best contribute to corporate parenting. But as the report argues, while current policy and legislation is generally sound, there is a need to ensure that two groups (unaccompanied asylum seeking children, and those entering custody from the care system) benefit equally from these developments.
Of course the approaches and proposed reforms are not new and have been built up since the Care Matters papers. It is now time to get on and deliver!