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Care Review Failing To Provide Resilience For Residential Child Care

Care Review failing to provide Resilience for Residential Child Care

There is a high demand for residential resources. High level complex needs require an equivalent response. We need opportunity to discuss the Care Review inclination towards the resilience of the ordinary family in all circumstances to provide the required structures for deprived young people. A small well-supported residential home, ‘primary home provision’, can provide a suitable ‘facilitating environment’ for young people.

These splits need to be resolved but the Care Review exposes and exacerbates them. NCERCC addresses this matter in its document Reconsidering family and group care: contributing to the Care Review also being a Cultural review – NCERCC

There is not the recognition in the Care Review that care is the core of our profession as well articulated by Austin and Halpin in 1989, ‘… children grow through being cared for and, in turn, caring. If children are not cared for, there is evidence that they cannot care for others…. Children in care need care. It is for this reason that care is the core of our profession, and this should not be forgotten’.

This is a devastating critique of any manualisation of programmatic care.

It is also a devastating critique of the proposals for unregulated settings, and the standards for supported accommodation currently out for consultation, divorcing care from support.

Caring only becomes meaningful when it is personal. Care (if) “… emptied of its potential (becomes) a dried-up expression for how to manage an underclass of disadvantage”. (Cameron 2003 p91-2)

The financial savings foreseen by the Care Review appear to be equivalent to the loss of 1/3rd of Residential Child Care

Is this what  Isabelle Trowler meant when speaking on BBC R4 World at One 23 05 22 (World at One – 23/05/2022 – BBC Sounds ), “What the review is saying is that there is too many children trapped in residential care at very high cost and money could be used so much more effectively if we bring it out of that part of the system”.

These words need also to be seen in the light of the Children’s Commissioner review of the family (August 2022) observing children’s homes as “Institutions”.

There is no discussion of the Rightsizing of Residential Child Care which is possible  through:

  • collating all the diverse needs of all the children who are living in Residential Child Care and who need to
  • collating the diverse provision that is Residential Child Care (all the types of children’s homes, residential special schools, Tier 4, etc), and its close associates such as intensive foster care, and the growing number of unregulated crisis or semi-independent settings.

This brings Specificity (needs) not Sufficiency (numbers) by analysing ‘what works for whom’ not ‘what works’.

The subsuming by the Care Review of Residential Child Care into social work is a retrograde step. It is an act of colonisation, it wipes away the rich tradition of Residential Child Care knowledge, theory, and practice. Residential Child Care is not social work, each has a distinct roles and tasks in the life of a child.

Residential Child Care is a profession with its own identity, the Care Review is not ambitious.

Where is the ambition to build on the experience of such countries as Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands and their requirement of a graduate workforce alongside the vocational?

The Care Review  has not a word on the low pay of Residential Child Care workers. IN the 2023 context this is a significant silence.

A national pay scale and the same terms and conditions is needed for all RCCWs in all types of ownerships. It could be enacted through LAs adopting Good Work plan as Best Value in procurement. The Good Work plan is a Government strategy set to reform employment law, with focus on the following key themes: Fair and decent work; Clarity for employers and workers; and Fairer enforcement.

The Care Review idea of Regional Care Cooperatives does not address the current conjuncture.

The Care Review could have charted the development of Relational  Commissioning with a different ethic, different focus, different practice, different outcome.

Regional Care Cooperatives are not an intervention in the current process of destabilisation, dysfunction and domination.

Throughout there a questions, questions, questions. Here’s some, and there are many more

  • It does not counter the last resort use of Residential Child Care (RCC).
  • It does not introduce meaningful assessment to ensure the right placement first time.
  • It does not address right place at the right time for the right child.
  • It does not remedy the serial and hierarchical use of RCC.
  • It does not address the attribution made by and contribution of others in the outcomes from RCC. In the Case for Change there was recognition that the outcomes from RCC were affected by factors ‘upstream.’ Why is this absent in the final report?
  • It does not make clear that the role and task of RCC is determined by the system in which operates. You get positive RCC in positive children’s services.
  • It does not make clear that what happens in RCC is a correlation of factors before and outside of RCC that it has to try to address. Magic and miracles are not addressed nor is the ‘impossible task’ of a child arriving after many years and likely possibly multiple placements when placement earlier would have had better outcomes.