The effects of funding cuts have been observed by many researchers. NCERCC sees the work by Webb, Hood and Bywaters as having the most detailed analysis and note the diminution of early intervention, scarcity and rationing observable, can lead to a rapidity of escalating needs that lead to statutory intervention. This can count for a cost increase.
Children’s homes providers report an increase in the intensity and frequency of needs of the young people for whom places are being sought. This requires intensive resourcing and adds to the costs. Needs-led costings are used by providers. The apportioning of risk and lack of occupancy is included in the fees. The profits may need to sustain a provider whilst matching for the ‘right child at the right time’ is found. Children’s homes have specialisms, not all children can be placed in all homes, some local, some regional, some national.
It needs to be noted that the rise of the use of residential child care comes after a period where there has been an artificial lowest use of RCC in history. NCERCC has consistently advised that this peculiarity would at some time need correction. The rise is multi-factoral, a rise in intensity and frequency of needs and behaviours makes currently available placements scarce. This is exacerbated by a workforce in need of a greater availability of professional knowledge and skills in order to make the provision available.
Any analysis needs to differentiate the use of unregistered/unregulated and registered residential settings. There are often marked differences in cost. There are examples of the costs of unregulated accommodation have been used as an example of registered costs.
There must be a reworking from full statistics and references for the report, The Future of Children’s Social Care, planned for early 2022. Newton have forecasted the rise in children coming into care by applying the average growth rate between March 2017 to March 2020 to current number of children in care. As Webb Hood and Bywaters show there are many variables to the current scarcity and rationing and as such a direct link cannot be made. Newton do use the equivocation ‘could’ in their report though the County Councils Network in their media do not. The 25% increase headline of CCN covered in the media is not found in the Newton report.With the total being equivocal the accompanying costs must be too.
The report reads as undertaking the same work as the Care Review. . A focus on family, systemic reform of the care system in an ‘optimised model’ to be published early in 2022. It is unclear if this work is supportive or contesting of the Care Review.
There appears to be a shared focus and methodology
The purpose of this work is to articulate a systemic approach – an ‘optimised model’ for delivery – which ensures the best offer of support is available to children at risk of entering care and those already in care, such that the system can provide an environment that offers safety, happiness and positive opportunities for their futures. Enablers such as leadership, digital and workforce are also being understood as part of the process.
The intent of the forthcoming report will be to help inform any process of reform in children’s services by drawing on the vast experience of CCN’s member authorities in delivering these services – gathering evidence which identifies and champions best practice and innovative solutions, whilst being honest about where there is potential to improve the system. The project is designed to draw on the experience of all 36 of CCN’s member authorities, working particularly closely with six ‘deep dive’ authorities, to gather its evidence base.
It is clear that for such an ‘optimised model’ there will need to be fair and sustainable funding, a clear message from the CCN.