A welcome change in ADCS analysis, stance and strategy – and now councillors too.
The ADCS media release of 19 11 21 commenting on the latest DfE Children Looked After statistics shows a significant change in analysis, stance and strategy.
It also heralds the prospect of new campaigning participative partners – councillors, directors, providers.
In place of the recent separateness the new stance aligns ADCS with the sector workforce.
This is very welcome.
The ADCS report the number of children looked after increasing by a third since 2008, while local authorities have faced a 50% reduction in budgets since 2010.
For some time the ADCS have had a focus only on the supply of placements.
Here we are seeing a focus on the creation of demand for services and settings and the necessary funding to meet escalating need.
“Only through long-term national investment in early help can we ensure that children are not taken into care when they could have stayed with their family had their needs been met earlier. The government must provide the sector with a sustainable, equitable and long-term financial settlement the that enables children to thrive, not just survive in the wake of the pandemic.”
NCERCC understands there is a current constraint on supply of residential child care placements.
In recent times ADCS have had a strong focus on measures that they saw as managing the excess demand that exists. Their thinking might be seen as addressing the ‘triple P’ – pricing power, productivity, and participation – of providers. A focus on supply only.
This statement is a significant change of position by the ADCS, no longer only managing the scarcity and rationing that exists but now prepared to explain the reasons and pose the necessary remedies.
Supply of children’s homes places cannot temper the demand. As Josh MacAllister observed it is ‘upstream.’ Demand is soaring, supply is steadily increasing.
The previous ADCS comments can now be understood differently. Their focus on insufficient supply has been a concern with an increase in demand.
With this new position Directors and providers together must now engage with the County Councils Network addressing the comment of their leader Cllr Tim Oliver addressing their annual conference said “The reality is that there are too many vulnerable children being placed in expensive residential care settings and staying in the care system for longer.” Number of children in care could reach almost 100,000 by 2025 – as county leaders call for an ‘unrelenting’ focus on keeping families together – County Councils Network
The questions that these comments pose are
· How many is too many?
· What is expensive and what is intensive?
· How long?
The County Councils Network is to publish a report, The Future of Children’s Social Care, in early 2022. This will explore in detail how an ‘optimised’ model of children’s services, delivered by local councils, can improve how outcomes are achieved and reduce long-term costs for children in care.
A further question arises, and may be a reason for the change in stance by the ADCS?
· What does ‘optimised’ mean?
Councillors have a powerful influence on MPs.
The alliance championing all children in care must now include councillors, directors and providers as equal participative partners with the common focus as articulated by Tim Oliver “the Department for Education’s review of children’s social care led by Mr MacAllister must provide substantive extra funding to help reform the care system and to reinvest in targeted prevention and support for families in crisis, where a child is at risk of being taken into care”.