It is no more than a collating together of things already known and being worked on now. It is difficult to see how it will assist. It may even, by adding to the demands for time and resources, diminish working on these issues, or provide parallel working nor duplication. It had the opportunity to build awareness of who was doing what, to coordinate a programme of work with work groups for each issue from individual projects. To date the Care Review has only had what people have sent them and it may be there is a much wider and deeper evidence and experience to be drawn upon.
The difference in tone and content from the media focus of the weekend to the report is notable.
Incorporated much of the language – but does it mean the same as others using it?
Underplays the structural constraints. They are not to be overcome by managing scarce resources. The focus is on sufficiency and not on insufficiency.
Does not appreciate that the theory and practice we have now is based on economic upturn and it is the first time we are facing downturn. You can’t have Scandinavian children’s services on US tax take.
The biggest omission is nowhere does it address ‘What is care?’ How can you have a care review without stating what it is you are looking for? (see NCERCC blog re values and principles). Instead it tries to propose an alternative as ‘Family help’ and that is not the same thing at all.
The analysis of RCC is weak. Late in the document it says it asking big questions including on RCC. But these are not readily apparent and there is scant evidence provided for any response to the question on page 71.
The report will make RCC feel neither uncomfortable or comfortable. It is not asking any questions that have not been asked continuously over the past 2 decades.
There is the need for the Care review to open up its definition of ‘family’ to include created families that RCC can be (see NCERCC blogs). It is a major gap and preventing addressing areas as widely and deeply as necessary, for example relationship based working, a strength of RCC and one that could be drawn upon for other services and settings. Unfortunately there are some indications that the review, no matter what it says, has adopted a negative view of RCC, for example when describing foster and RCC as being by ‘strangers’. This is not how it feels to children or their workers.
The review is too hesitant in its recognition of the positives of RCC. To increase stability the review must address the use of RCC and end the idea and practice of ‘last resort. You get positive children’s homes in positive children’s services.
That there are not enough homes in the right places with the right support is something NCERCC has continually made know over a decade and more. NCERCC has explained the need for a strategy, a needs analysis, and planning at local, regional and national levels.
The review makes an error by not including that the RCC sector is a monopsony not a market. The LAs determine the functioning of the market not providers. The review also fails to recognise the failure of a market mechanism for high level and complex needs, the provision that is scarce.
The review misses the key factor for the development of RCC sector is workforce development. This cannot come through marketplace and requires government provision. Government also needs to conduct a support and recruitment campaign for RCC as it has done for other areas.
The review needs to adopt the appreciation that it is needs-led costings that is in operation now, placements are intensive and this creates higher cost.