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ADCS calls for greater use of kinship care

Association launches new research on workings of the care system

The Association of Directors of Children's Services has launched new research into the care system. Commenting on What is Care For?  Andrew Webb, President of the Association, said:

"Our research into the care system shows that outcomes for most groups of children are good, but this is not true for those who first enter care as adolescents. Put simply, for this specific group of young people, we are asking the care system to achieve something for which it is ill equipped.

"For those teenagers who should be in care, for whatever reason, we must rethink the way care is structured and must begin to commission care places based on outcomes. But we also need a radical review of the way community based services work together to meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable children in society. We need a joined up system for our young people and to explore alternative approaches which bring together the focus of care, education, and health services around the child and family. There is a role for specialist services, but historically their development has led to a fragmented approach to help from the perspective of the young person.

"The evidence we have suggests that greater use of kinship care, allowing children to stay with a family member, whether that is an aunt, uncle, older sibling or a grandparent, would improve outcomes for children by allowing them to stay in their own communities. We must encourage and support the growth of kinship care by providing improved support and training over time.

"The model of shared care that already exists for those children with disabilities or special educational needs, should be further developed. This would allow children to stay with their own families but would also provide respite which would allow parents to get the help and support they need to be able to improve their own parenting skills – whilst providing the child with an appropriate placement.

"The care system continues to provide a safety net to all those children who are unable to live at home. Our main priority is the health, safety and well-being of the most vulnerable children in society. Care can and must improve outcomes for children, providing them with a better start in life than if they had remained at home. Our research highlights ways that the current system can be improved for teenagers, and we will be communicating this to all directors of children's services. ADCS will work with all partners including local authorities, local health and wellbeing boards and Ofsted to design and implement a commissioning for outcomes based model for the future."

What is Care For? Can be read here.