For many years NCERCC has been observing that we have the smallest residential sector in history. We have analysed and written extensively about the factors that have led to the situation
We have created a sector that is impossibly slender to meet the needs of the children who need it.
Its current form has been affected by factors other than the meeting of need.
Consider this: if we had a sector that was meeting need it would look more like the Maslow Triangle. What we have now is out of proportion to human experience. What is the social purpose of the sector we have today?
If that is the vision of the Care Review it will mean that factors ‘upstream’ as Josh MacAllister has termed them have been taken into account.
Consider this: if we had a residential sector that was shaped differently it would be because the rest of children’s services were different too. Residential Child Care is a correlation of what happens before. Its role and task is directly linked to all the rest of care.
If that is the vision of the Care Review it will mean that wider and widest factors have been taken into account.
It is clear is an extruded residential sector does not meet need.
The ADCS have stated repeatedly that the sector is not providing the ‘right sort’ of homes. It seems a market mechanism can produce some homes but not others.
It’s time for LAs to address the needs other providers cannot reach.
Ofsted have recently published their view that a needs and provision audit is needed. This is something NCERCC has advocated for 15 years. The residential sector needs planning. For 15 years NCERCC has been using the phrase ‘the right place at the right time for the right child’, this comes through planning
If that is the vision of the Care Review it will mean that there will also be ambition for specialist workforce development in advance of more specialist homes. As we have seen it is lesser use only looking to open homes that re more of the same. They can and will be filled but they do not necessarily meet need.
We do have specialist world class homes.
Our point is that we have too few of these. Superbly designed and delivered. They are exceptions with exceptional people rather than a potential for all providers and practitioners to achieve. It needs to be a choice to step back and do something with other needs rather than have what is on offer the result of people working to their current maximum. We need to invest in our workforce and make it possible for all to care appropriately for higher and complex needs as a benefit for all children.
If that is the vision of the Care Review it will benefit all children.
Sometimes a visual representation analogy works well.
Look at the New York skyline. You will be able to see 111W57th, and One57, Central Park Tower, 220 Central Park South.
You get the picture?
If it is the vision of the Care Review to get rid of the ‘jenga tower with sellotape’ it has to see that the residential sector is a lego tower.
As long as we continue with ‘slender residential’ we will not meet children’s needs.