Children’s Social Care Review in England

Together we can achieve change for children

The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England was announced by the Department for Education on Friday 15 January 2021. Hailed as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform services and systems, the Review intends to be broad and bold and to examine the entirety of children’s social care services, thus extending to any child with a social worker, not just children in care.

Our vision is of a care system where children are thriving within homes that are havens and where every child always has a family by their side. Below is a timeline documenting some of our advocacy work seeking to achieve this vision through engaging with the review.

May 2022

On 23 May 2022, the independent Review of Children’s Social Care published its final report, making over 80 recommendations which set out a vision for reform in the care system. Alongside the final report, the Review published a number of accompanying documents, including a cost-analysis of the recommendations and a series of open letters to different stakeholders within the system, including children and young people, foster carers and social workers.

The Government published a short response to the Review’s recommendations, welcoming its ambition and making an initial commitment to some of the recommendations. They are due to publish a full response to the whole report by the end of the year.

The Chair of the Review, Josh MacAlister, set out: Change is now both morally urgent and financially unavoidable. We have a stark choice: keep pouring money into a faltering system or reform and invest to improve people’s lives and make the system sustainable for the future.”

As Home for Good, we were pleased to see many of our priorities and solutions reflected in the final report. You can read our initial response to the Review here. The publication of the final report is just the next stage in the process of much-needed reform of the children’s social care system. Crucially, the vision set out by the final report will not be achieved without full and holistic commitment by Government to implement the recommendations put forward. Home for Good will be working hard over the coming months to secure Government action on the final report.

Thank you for following Home for Good’s journey with the independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England. This timeline will no longer be updated. Do keep an eye on our blog for updates about the implementation of the Review and its impact on the lives of children and families over the longer term.

April 2022

During April, our team met with Government officials and other fostering organisations to discuss and build on the findings from the roundtable we hosted in February which focused on the barriers at play to individuals stepping forward to foster.

In addition, we launched the Supported Lodgings National Network for local authorities and organisations, which represents one of the key commitments set out within our ‘Brimming with Potential’ report. We were delighted to have more than 50 local authorities and organisations represented at this event and are excited for the impact it will have in enabling an uplift in the quality and use of supported lodgings across England.

We continue to await the final report of the Care Review, which is due to be published any day.

During March, we met with a number of Parliamentarians to share with them the findings of our roundtable on fostering and the barriers within the assessment and approval process. In addition, we have continued to meet with a number of Parliamentarians to discuss the potential within supported lodgings to provide a safe and stable home for many more young people in care.

The final report of the Care Review is due to be published in ‘Spring 2022’ and we are looking forward to reading the final recommendations made by Josh and the Review team upon publication.

March 2022

February 2022

This month, the advocacy team hosted a roundtable to investigate a series of statistics published by Ofsted in November 2021. These statistics show that despite 160,000 individuals enquiring about fostering, only around 10,000 are putting an application in and only 2,000 are going on to be approved every year as foster carers. This equates to a 1.3% conversion rate from enquiries to approvals. Co-chaired by Bishop Paul Butler (Bishop of Durham) and Tarn Bright (CEO of Home for Good), this roundtable brought together representatives from local authorities, independent fostering agencies, Ofsted, foster carers, care experienced adults and others to help us understand the drivers behind these patterns and the solutions that could be implemented to address them. We prepared a short briefing on our findings and submitted this to the Care Review team to inform and feed into their final recommendations.

We also supported the APPG for Adoption and Permanence to host a session with the Minister for Children, Will Quince MP and a panel of leaders from the adoption sector. Within this meeting, Parliamentarians emphasised the recommendations of our ‘Strengthening Families’ report and enquired about the forthcoming plans of the Government for adopted children and their families.

January 2022

This month, we launched our new joint report with Safe Families called More than Sundays: Realising the potential of local church communities to support vulnerable children and families. This report outlines four attributes of the Church across the UK that we identify make it well-placed to play a unique and significant role in supporting our most vulnerable children and young people.

We also met with the Review team this month to talk about the findings and recommendations of our supported lodgings report and how the case presented through our report aligns with the values and ambitions of the Review. In addition, we are continuing to meet with a number of Parliamentarians to brief them on the value of supported lodgings and to secure their support in presenting this valuable solution to Government.

December 2021

In December, we made our submission to the Review’s final consultation; the Call for Ideas. Within this, we put forward 8 ideas to the Review which we believe could impact the lives of children and young people within the care system, for the better. These included increasing the use of supported lodgings provision, ensuring that cultural literacy training is mandatory for every social worker and harnessing the resource and potential within faith communities more effectively to support children and families.

We also met with a number of Parliamentarians to share with them in greater depth about the findings of our latest report, ‘Brimming with potential’. We were delighted that each of these Parliamentarians expressed support and willingness to act to help us put this valuable provision and our recommendations on the agenda of the Care Review and of Government.

November 2021

In November, we published our latest report, titled ‘Brimming with potential: the case for supported lodgings’. This report summarises two-years’ worth of research into how we can increase the availability of high-quality accommodation and support for older teenagers in care, to prevent them being placed in inappropriate settings, such as caravans and tents. We believe that the increased use of supported lodgings could be part of the solution as it offers a relationship-centred approach to supporting young people and equips them with skills for life.

We published the report on 4 November and held a virtual report launch. We were pleased to be joined by 100 guests at this event and heard from inspiring speakers, including the CEO of Young Devon, a number of supported lodgings hosts, a young adult who has lived in supported lodgings and Josh MacAlister, the Chair of the Children’s Social Care Review. Find out more about supported lodgings by visiting our webpage here.

In addition, the Care Review is moving into its final phase of considering what solutions could effectively tackle the challenges it has heard and as such, has launched a final consultation; the ‘Call for Ideas’. Home for Good has been preparing our submission to this consultation, which closes in December.

October 2021

This month, we hosted a joint event with PriceWaterhouse Cooper to share the findings and build on the report we jointly published in April 2021; The Investment of a Lifetime. We were joined by leaders from the business world and heard from a compelling lineup of speakers about their reflections on the report and how the recommendations can be taken forward across many spheres. It was particularly inspiring to hear from Laura, a care experienced adult who shared about her own experience and the importance of asking young people what their aspirations are.

We met with our incredible care experienced advisory group where we had a rich discussion about how we can enable children and young people in care to experience lifelong relationships. The focus of our discussion stemmed from this topic being a central theme within the Care Review’s ‘the Case for Change’ document, published in July.

September 2021

In September, as part of our work with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Adoption and Permanence (APPGAP) we co-authored a new report entitled ‘Strengthening Families’ which examines how we can ensure greater stability for adopted children and their families. The report has been produced to feed in directly to the work of the Review and makes around 20 recommendations to Government, regional adoption agencies and leaders in the adoption sector.

We were delighted to be joined by the Chair of the Review, Josh MacAlister at the virtual launch, as well as Vicky Ford MP, the former Minister for Children and Families and a number of Parliamentarians as well as adoptive families, adopted individuals and professionals from the sector.

In continuing to prepare our forthcoming report on supported lodgings, we spoke to a number of supported lodgings hosts, providers, local authorities and young people who have lived in these settings to gather their experiences and perspectives.

This month our team spent some time planning and strategizing for the term ahead. With this month marking six months of the Review, we spent time considering how we might continue to influence the Review’s thinking as they turn their attention to the solutions that might be developed in response to the challenges outlined in the Case for Change. You can read our submission to the Case for Change consultation here.

In addition, we spent time talking to supported lodgings providers about the needs of young people and the impact that strong relationships enabled through supported lodgings provision can have on a young person’s life.

August 2021

July 2021

This month, we began preparing our feedback submission to the Case for Change. We spent time listening to the experiences of care experienced adults about some of the themes outlined within the Case for Change which included the role of residential care, their experiences of stigma and the purpose and vision of the system as a whole. They provided some insightful perspectives on these aspects which shaped and underpinned our submission to the Review team.

We also made a submission to the Government’s consultation around the development of National Standards for independent and semi-independent settings for 16- and 17-year olds. Within this submission we highlighted the need for the Standards to go beyond setting a minimum bar and be aspirational, in order to ensure high-quality provision for young people. We also highlighted the value and strength of supported lodgings provision for this cohort, which is able to provide a family-based setting for young people, while enabling them to experience greater independence and autonomy.

June 2021

June saw the final of our APPG evidence sessions being held which took a focus on the realities of adoptive families who are in crisis or where a child has had to leave home prematurely. We have now begun the busy work of writing a report that summarises the findings of this inquiry which will be published in a few months’ time.

The Children’s Social Care Review also published their first report; ‘The Case for Change’ which set out the Review’s findings over the last three months and identifies some of the key challenges in the system that need addressing. We published our initial response to this 100-page report here and will be submitting a response to the accompanying consultation in due course.

May 2021

This month, our advocacy team convened a roundtable in partnership with St George’s House, Windsor Castle. The discussion was focused around how we might enable more children and young people to have a family or tribe to belong to for life. Together with a wide range of participants, including care-experienced individuals, foster and adoptive parents, agency leaders, Parliamentarians, Government officials and others, we considered three proposed solutions and how we might prevent children and young people facing a relational ‘care cliff’ at 16, 18 or 21 when they leave the care system. It was a rich and inspiring discussion, with so much shared determination to do better for every young person in care.

In addition, this month we held a further two oral evidence sessions as part of the APPG’s Inquiry into ‘Strengthening Families’. These two sessions considered the value of Early Permanence routes in enabling stability for children and the need to ensure that right from the beginning of the adoptive family being formed, that they can access the support they need.

April 2021

It was a busy month for our team! We co-launched a report with PricewaterhouseCoopers designed to shape the thinking of the Review by providing some economic analysis of the care system. The report considers the disparity between the high fiscal investment made and the reality that too many children and young people who enter the care system do not go on to flourish in life. It calls for a society-wide approach to ensuring that our vulnerable children can thrive and makes a number of recommendations as to what changes are needed to bring about better outcomes for children.

We made a submission to the Review’s Call for Evidence highlighting current gaps in research around the children’s social care system. We also made a submission to the Education Select Committee who are conducting an inquiry into Children’s Homes in England. Our brilliant care-experienced advisory group met for the fourth time.

Finally, the APPG for Adoption and Permanence (which Home for Good provides joint-secretariat for) launched a new inquiry this month into how stability can be ensured for children journeying from the care system into adoption and as part of an adoptive family. This inquiry will feed directly into the review.

March 2021

On 1 March, the review officially started and the first official document from the review was published, outlining the Chair’s ‘Early Thoughts’ about the direction of travel for the review and his priorities in taking the Terms of Reference forward.

We were delighted to see a specific section in the document outlining the review’s commitment to addressing racial disparities, in direct response to the Open Letter convened by Home for Good.

We met with the independent Chair of the Review, Josh MacAlister in early March to talk about how the review can go about tackling racial disparities and our shared ambition to see the care system equip children and young people with a family by their side beyond the age of 18.

February 2021

We received a letter from Gavin Williamson MP, which you can view here. We could not have done this without you and are so grateful - the strength of support behind the letter from across the country was inspiring!

We made a submission to the Call for Advice, following a consultation with our care-experienced advisory group highlighting some of the most important questions we think the review needs to consider.

January 2021

The Children’s Social Care Review was launched!

We published our initial response to the publication of the Terms of Reference and the announcement of the Chair, Josh MacAlister.

We wrote a letter to Josh welcoming him to his post and offering our support to ensure this review keeps children at the centre.

We established our care-experienced advisory group who will meet for the duration of the review.

December 2020

We posted our Open Letter to the Secretary of State for Education which received the support of over 1500 individuals, including an additional 70 churches who signed on behalf of their congregations, representing an additional 24,000 people.

November 2020

We launched our Open Letter calling on the Government to tackle racial disparity as part of the upcoming care review. With Black children overrepresented in the care system but underrepresented in adoption, we urged the Government to seize the upcoming once-in-a-generation opportunity to consider and address racial disparity existing right across the social care system. You can view the letter here.

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