The next government must take action to ensure that savings from early intervention work are reinvested into children’s services, according to the Association of Directors of Children’s services (ADCS).
Alan Wood, ADCS president, calls for a shift from late spending to early intervention.
The call is one of a number of “quick actions” for the next government to feature in three policy position papers published by the organisation on leadership, education and early years.
It highlights that national spending on children’s services is directed more at late, or later, intervention and reactive services.
“ADCS urges the government, the Early Intervention Foundation and others to work with the sector to establish realistic business cases for investment of public money in early years and in older-age early intervention,” the paper claims.
Recent government data shows that councils’ spending on early intervention services is continuing to fall as local authorities try to cope with cuts in central government funding and increasing demand for crisis point services.
Department for Education figures for how much local authorities spent on different areas of children and young people’s services in 2013/14 reveal that councils spent £1.05bn on children’s centres - a reduction of £139.7m on the 2012/13 figure of £1.19bn.
Conversely local authorities spent £3.7bn on services for looked-after children in 2013/14, compared with £3.5bn the previous year.
Councils also increased their spending on safeguarding services from £1.9bn in 2012/13 to £2.02bn in 2013/14.
The ADCS is also calling on government to look again at accountability arrangements for the local school system to ensure a coherent approach to the provision of sufficient good-quality places.
It wants to see improvements in early years provision, with a focus on “quality and not places alone”, as well as greater investment in parenting and wider family support alongside the free childcare offer, and for the level of the early years pupil premium to be increased.
It also wants clarity over responsibility and accountability for systems for child protection and safeguarding, dealing with child sexual exploitation and schooling, stating that current arrangements are "confused and confusing".