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Recent reports ‘all suggest that under-investment is putting children at risk’

BASW CEO highlights findings by Children’s Commissioner, LGA and Action for Children

The findings of a clutch of important national reports in recent months do nothing to allay widely held concerns that children's services are under unsustainable pressure, and that far too many children and families are left without the support they need. That comment of the Chief Executive Officer of the British Association of Social Workers, Dr. Ruth Allen, comes in the wake of the Children's Commissioner's report on child vulnerability, the recent Local Government Association analysis into underfunding of children's services, and most recently Action for Children's (A4C) 'Revolving Door' report. Dr Allen says that they all point to a lack of investment undermining crucial services, as demand continues its seemingly inexorable rise of recent years.

She also says that they highlight the loss of early help and preventive services, and how this is contributing to more children in need falling through our supposed safety net - and potentially going 'off the radar' all together.
Children referred to social services because of perceived risks may be bounced around between service providers or receive no help at all if they do not meet statutory thresholds for help. And we believe these thresholds vary widely.

The British Association of Social Workers and National Children's Bureau are currently working with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children to survey social workers' views on the degree of variation and ask the question – why should child and family welfare support be a thing of location lottery?
The A4C report suggests up to 140,000 vulnerable children each year are not getting the help they need. These are children who have not met the threshold for statutory help, but nor are they signposted or guided to other suitable services.

Dr Allen notes that for most families the prospect of social services being involved with their children for welfare reasons is too often imbued with fear. It is associated with stigma, intrusion and the heavy hand of state interference in family life and parental rights.

Changing public perceptions and ensuring in practice that children's social care and social work can be beneficial, compassionate and helpful first and foremost is made increasingly difficult when early help services, such as Sure Starts and Family Centres, are not available. These, alongside community and voluntary sector groups and organisations, are vital threads in the fabric of child welfare.

For Dr Allen's article, click here.