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The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care publishes early thinking

The Independent Review of Children's Social Care has published The Case for Change, which is the Review's early thinking about what needs to change in the children's social care system.

The report notes that "the system is under significant strain: more families are being investigated, more children are in care and costs are spiralling as money is increasingly spent on crisis intervention." Underlying this, the report says, are significant and concerning inequalities with deprivation, ethnicity and prior care experience.

In the view of the review team, families, in the majority of cases, become involved with children's social care because they are parenting in conditions of adversity, rather than because they have caused or are likely to cause significant harm to their children.

The report calls for a system that gives social workers the skills and confidence to make the complex and challenging decisions necessary to balance how to protect a child from harm, whilst keeping families together where possible. Yet, it says, process dominates over direct work with families, and decision-making and risk assessment too often underpinned by a lack of knowledge. Information sharing problems remain across agencies despite decades of reviews calling for greater sharing.

The review team considers that more needs to be done to support parents who have their children removed. It says: "Repeat care proceedings make up 20 per cent of cases in the public care system, yet intensive support for parents at risk of repeat proceedings is patchy. Better practice and alternative approaches are needed where children return home after a period of being in care to stop cycles of re-entry and trauma – nearly 30 per cent of children who left care in 2006/07 returned to care within five years."

As the review moves into its next phase, the review team will explore in more depth the issues highlighted in this document. The objective is to put forward "a bold set of recommendations that will meaningfully improve life for children and families".

To read The Case for Change, click here. To read the evidence supporting the report, click here. For the response of the Local Government Association, click here. For that of the Association of Directors for Children's Services, click here. For that of the British Association of Social Workers, click here. For that of Coram BAAF, click here.