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Our Thinking Of The Funding And Provision Of RCC Was Made When We Were A Rich Country

Our thinking of the funding and provision of RCC was made when we were a rich country

Residential Child Care works from providing a secure emotional base. Its provision and practice are dependent on its financial base.

It cannot depend on the ‘kindness of strangers’. These the words of Mark Carney, former Head of the Bank of England.

The ‘kindness of strangers’ might be those national and international financiers who have invested into the sector, though it wasn’t kindness that perhaps was at the forefront of their decision making.

The kindness of strangers might be the local and national tax payers that contribute to the funds that through local authorities pay for Residential Child Care.

Nationally our national debt is not well structured. It is necessary to read behind the economic figures for the levels required to service the debt and how this detracts from expenditure on services.

In the near future it may be, too, that the debt of the private investors into children’s homes is not so well structured and serviceable either. The current RCC sector is built on debt.

The balance sheet of RCC is built on the balance sheet of the nation. Investing in RCC requires a return on investment through fees paid.

Nationally our liabilities exceed our assets by 30% of GDP with a fading industrial base.

The national debt is very short term and vulnerable to rising interest rates and inflation, a quarter is in inflation-linked bonds.

The RCC sector is vulnerable to rising interest rates and inflation. It relies on local authorities being able to pay the fees. The fees increasing take an steadily growing part of children’s services expenditure.

The national picture does not look like turning for a long while. And, this is not taking the gloomiest of forecasts.

The current discourse on all sides about RCC is not addressing the wider circumstances.

It is not going to be business as usual.

The levels of deprivation and poverty rise across the country. Early support services are not afforded as statutory intervention is to be paid for.

Our thinking of the funding and provision of RCC was made when we were a rich country.

Now the country and RCC is on the edge.

There is no quick fix.

The Care Review was a smart narrative, but not a fix. Josh MacAllister pleaded with providers to reduce their fees before omitting any realistic way of addressing the provision of RCC from his finished report implicitly perhaps saying if we did more earlier, in families and fostering and adoption and kinship, then we would not need RCC.

The needs of those children in RCC are of a different order and origin than those in those other cohorts.

The question before us is one that no other generation has had to grapple with: we are not a rich nation and we face increasing demand for children’s services.

Tax cuts do not equal more expenditure. They mean cuts even to what we have now.

The solution “is for a declining rich country to set about building a network of institutions and policies dedicated to development” (Will Hutton Observer 13 08 23)

“This will take decades of determined government, not least creating the capacity to act”.

For RCC it “requires real financial muscle” … “Education must be transformed, and training given the status culturally and financially it deserves.”

“We cannot live with a decade of more of the same”.

If we think we can then we are wrong. We need a planned environment for the future of RCC and thus of the future for the most vulnerable children.

It requires action on 4 key dimensions: ideological, the prevailing values and beliefs towards RCC – what we want it to do; organisational, the funding and the entities we want to provide it, and the structures and staff to delver the ambition; staffing, the characteristics, training and leadership of staff; childrens’ outcomes, what do we want, a last resort intervention, or timely evidenced treatment, or an upbringing.

A market has not provided the solution. From here on we need planned provision and it is to this we should all be dedicating ourselves. The rest is noise, competing narratives diverting us away from territorial imperatives. When children become collateral it is a different definition of ‘child-centred’ than we have known before. We need to reclaim child-centred children’s services.

NCERCC