‘The system of child protection can and must do better for children’
An overhaul of child protection services, which have seen several tragic failings in Northants, has been recommended
By Sarah Ward
A review calling for a radical overhaul of child protection services has been cautiously welcomed.
The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, which was published yesterday, has called on more than £2bn to be pumped into children’s services over the next five years, saying that ‘a radical reset is now unavoidable’ amid poor child protection levels across much of the country and a landscape of overworked social workers and private care homes monopolising budgets by charging extortionate sums.
The government ordered that Northamptonshire’s children’s services be taken over by an independent trust after a series of failings amidst its 2018 financial collapse, however the county’s two unitiaries still remain statutorily responsible for safeguarding children who live in their area and ensuring they are well looked after if they go into care.
The poor quality of children’s social care has been one of the biggest issues in the county in recent years.
In the last three, six safeguarding reviews have been carried out in Northamptonshire, four after the death of a child (two of whom, Dylan Tiffin-Brown and Eve Rose Muggleton, had been murdered) and two concerning children who had suffered serious neglect at the hands of their parents. All but one of the children had been known to social services.
A huge chunk of the services budget has also gone into paying private companies to look after children, meaning there has been less budget for early work and work with families.
The review, which was commissioned by the conservative government and written by former teacher and Frontline CEO Josh MacAlister has made a number of suggestions about what needs to be done.
Creating family help teams based in community settings, such as schools or community hubs, which would be made up of multidisciplinary teams including mental health practitioners and domestic abuse workers
Appointing expert child protection practitioners, experienced social workers who would work alongside the family help team when concerns about significant harm of a child emerge
Special guardians and kinship carers should receive a new statutory financial allowance, legal aid and statutory kinship leave
Creating mandatory Regional Care Cooperatives between local authorities to put an end to private companies looking after vulnerable children for profit.
Improved professional development for social workers and concerted effort to reduce caseloads and admin tasks of these experienced professionals
A reform board should be set up to bring about the recommendations over a five year period.