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Josh MacAlister publishes long awaited final report of his independent review of children’s social care

The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England has published its final report calling for a set of radical changes and major reforms to produce a ‘once in a generation opportunity to reset children’s social care’.

The report calls for a ‘system that provides intensive help to families in crisis, acts decisively in response to abuse, unlocks the potential of wider family networks to raise children, puts lifelong loving relationships at the heart of the care system and lays the foundations for a good life for those who have been in care.’ As opposed to the current system which is ‘increasingly skewed to crisis intervention, with outcomes for children that continue to be unacceptably poor and costs that continue to rise.’

The report argues that ‘without a dramatic whole system reset, outcomes for children and families will remain stubbornly poor’. By this time next decade it is forecast that there will be approaching 100,000 children in care (up from 80,000 today) and a flawed system will cost over £15 billion per year (up from £10 billion now).

New proposals from the review include:

Strengthening early help and intervention with struggling families by creating a new ‘Family Help’ service. The new service, estimated to cost roughly £2 billion to set up, will be based in trusted community settings like schools will provide support to families struggling with problems like domestic abuse and poor mental health.

Strengthening child protection through a new expert social worker role to jointly work alongside Family Help teams where there are serious child protection concerns, and boost multi-agency and information sharing arrangements.

Spending £253 million over five years to recruit and retain enough social workers, as well as national pay scales to "provide a desirable career pathway to remain in practice, specialise and be rewarded through higher pay that reflects expertise."

Launching new dedicated bodies – called Regional Care Cooperatives (RCCs) – to “bring an end to profiteering in the children’s social care market” and recruiting thousands of new foster carers. The cooperatives are suggested to be local authority-owned regional bodies which will use their “scale and expertise” to provide a wider choice of homes for children closer to where they live.

In addition, the review recommends the introduction of a protected characteristic to recognise the lifelong impact of being care-experienced and reduce stigma and discrimination.

In response the government has announced it will be setting out initial new measures in response to recommendations in the review.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, said: “I am grateful to Josh MacAlister for his work, as well as to the families, young people, and professionals who shared their experiences. We are ready to meet the challenge set by this review and I will set out my plans for bold and ambitious change in the coming months.”

Read the Executive Summary to the report here and the full report here