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World News

Christian charity says government must act to tackle failings in children's social care

by Donna Birrell

The Children's Society is among charities backing calls to urgently reform children's social care.  

It comes after the publication of the final report from the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care said care provision for children in England is in desperate need of change. It's calling for a fundamental reset of the system to improve the quality of life for children, families and those who have been in care. 

Josh MacAlister, who led the review, says there need to be significant reforms and an additional £2.6 billion investment to avoid tens of thousands more children being taken into care. The report recommends a windfall tax on 15 of the biggest children's homes and fostering providers.

The review says urgent action is needed because projections show that by 2032, there will be around 100,000 children in care - up from 80,000 today - and it will cost £15 billion per year, up from £10 billion per year now. It‘s hoped that a five-year programme of reform would reverse the trend, improve outcomes and see 30,000 more children living safely with their families by 2032.

Charities including Barnado's and Action for Children have welcomed the recommendations. Mark Russell who is chief executive of the Children’s Society has been giving his reaction to Premier: 

“We at the Children’s Society warmly welcome this report. We see the feelings of children in the social care system regularly through the work we do with some of the most disadvantaged young people in the country. Josh has been working for 14 months on this, he’s seen for himself that the system is breaking down. His report is bold and ambitious and it sets out a roadmap for transforming children's social care.

"There is much to welcome in this report, particularly the emphasis on early help for families that are struggling, there's a whole section around helping to ensure that more children can stay with their families rather than be taken into foster care and for resources that would have been used for foster care to help support those families. There's a whole section on reforming the care market. We know there are lots of big companies making a lot of money in this sector and young people are often taken far away from where they live and where their networks are. Josh's report addresses that. It also proposes help for young people who come out of the care system who frequently have much lower outcomes later in life to do better.

"The onus is now really on the government to make this report a reality, otherwise, it'll just collect dust and be another excellent report that makes recommendations. What we want to see is this report deliver real change for real young people.
“The government must recognise that the context for too many young people is just too hard right now.” 

Josh MacAlister, chair of the independent review said:
 
“Children, their families and those who have been in care have told me that change is desperately needed. There are too many stories of lives lived isolated, unfulfilled or cut short. The time is gone for half measures, tweaking or quick fixes. A fundamental reset is now needed and the review has produced a plan to do just that.  
 
“How we care for our children is a reflection of our values as a country. When we get it right, children’s social care allows children and families to flourish - it can be a reflection of England at its best.”

Responding to the findings, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “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.” 

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