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Care Review Idea Of ‘Family Help’  – Nothing To Exclude Residential Child Care

Care Review idea of ‘Family Help’ – nothing to exclude Residential Child Care

What does family mean for you?  The Care Review states, ‘Every child deserves to live within a loving, safe and stable family. (page 15). As NCERCC explained to Sir Martin Narey an inclusive view of families appreciates ‘some children, sometimes, for some reasons need something more and different.

Gavin Williamson asked in his speech to the Centre for Social Justice, ‘What does family mean for you?’ Education Secretary addresses Centre for Social Justice – GOV.UK (

NCERCC discussed this in its document Reconsidering family and group care: contributing to the Care Review also being a Cultural review – NCERCC

The Care Review seeks to ‘keep children safe as close to a family environment as is possible’ (10). A family environment takes many forms.

Nothing to exclude Residential Child Care from that definition.

The Care Review looks to give a ‘clearer definition of what ‘family help’ is, it must be high quality, based on good evidence and those doing this work must be confident holding risk’.

Nothing to exclude Residential Child Care from that definition.

In his opening remarks Gavin Williamson observes that ‘families are almost always the best support mechanisms any of us have to fall back on’. Almost always. There are a group of children for whom meeting their needs requires something different than a family can provide. Some call it residential care, some call it group living.

If as he says we have ‘lost the confidence to talk about family in a positive way and the positive contribution families make’ then even more so we have lost it regarding children’s residential care/group living.

NCERCC takes the view that residential group living is able to be just as much a family as any other and there are thousands of created families nationwide.

It has nothing to do with ‘statism’ or ‘government intervention’

Meeting needs requires a diversity of opportunities, ‘the most appropriate placement’. Some of these opportunities are family, kith and kin, some fostering, some adoption, some residential.

What we must beware is preventing any child getting access to the response to their need, some specialist care is needed some time in some children’s lives. Sometimes is has been delayed by hierarchical use of placement options leaving the necessary residential solution being the ‘last resort.’ Children often arrive a residential setting in mid-teens after years of other options not meeting their needs.

If we include residential care in our family thinking then we can see as Willaimson expressed, ‘families have many of the answers and we must give families, in all their shapes and sizes, the chance to thrive.’

Where we differ is in the end of that sentence where Williamson says ‘without the need for state intervention’. For some children state support, acting as their corporate parent, is key to accessing what they need. As the Care Review observes, “There are a range of problems and needs, stemming from inside and outside of the home, which create risks and mean the state might need to intervene in family life (page 19)

There is nothing in the Care Review definition of ‘Family Help’ that excludes Residential Child Care, “strengthening family relationships to enable children to thrive and keep families together, helping them to provide the safe, nurturing environments that children need” (page 36).

Family Help should, “offer support at the level that a family needs in order for them to function well with the aim of avoiding ongoing service involvement”. That is the aim and ambition of Residential Child Care.” (page 36)

NCERCC agrees with Gavin Williamson that ‘being part of a stable, loving family is one of the best mechanisms for boosting life chances’. However for some children at some time for some reasons more than family is needed. Residential care provides that ‘safety net and love’ that a family for this child has yet to provide well-enough. Children’s homes too give children ‘a house to call home, support, and love, transforming their lives in a remarkable way’.

NCERCC agrees with Gavin Williamson that, ‘Whatever shape, size, or type of family you find yourself in, it needs to be supported, parents need to be empowered, and children must be given every opportunity to grow up in a happy and healthy home’. And, for NCERCC, that includes, the created family of group living. Residential child care workers are parents too.

NCERCC agrees with Gavin Willaimson that ‘support is often too fragmented just when it is most needed’, like for child with tens of placements in. NCERCC agrees ‘we should be doing everything in our power to support parents in carrying out the most important job they will ever have’. This means supporting our residential child care workers with recognition of professional status, professional development, and appropriate pay levels that match their role and responsibility. Residential child care workers care for some of our nation’s most vulnerable children.

NCERCC has expanded these remarks of Gavin Williamson to be inclusive of all children and all responses, we do not accept the separation of residential care from all others: ‘Supporting families in all their creations demonstrates the way public services should work – with services joining up to ensure that more children get access to early, coordinated support to help them overcome their problems before they escalate with access to specialist settings when they are needed’.

NCERCC does so answering the question ‘What family is for you?’ in the same way as Williamson does, ‘family means being there for loved ones no matter what is happening in life’ and we do so on the basis of an inclusive idea of what families are.