Today, Rachael Maskell, Labour MP for York Central, will lead on a Backbench Business Debate discussing the need for reform of Children’s Social Care. The York MP, who also chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Adoption and Permanence (APPGAP), applied for the debate with the support of colleagues from other APPGs focusing on different aspects of children’s care, following the release of Josh MacAlister’s Independent Review of Children’s Social Care earlier this year.
Following York’s poor Ofsted rating and learning that a higher-than-average number of children are in care in York, the MP has been looking further into issues with children’s social care. Most moving of all has been the cases that constituents have brought to her; challenging situations where she has seen parents and children failed. It is clear the problems run far deeper than York alone, but with the whole system, as she highlights in her debate.
This independent review, commissioned by the Government and published on 23 May 2022, sets out a path to system reform, focusing on providing early, preventative ‘family help’ to support families in need and ensure that the care system provides safe, stable, and loving placements for care experienced children and young people.
The report recognises the intersection of poverty, deprivation, and social care interventions, set alongside the wider context of growing concerns about the inadequacy of the current system, with evidence suggesting it has reverted to crisis intervention rather than building family support and is failing families and children. With the costs of providing statutory care rising, and the workforce overstretched, the cost for each child that needs a social worker is up to £720,000 over their lifetime, and an estimated social cost of adverse outcomes reaches £23 billion each year. The cost of implementing these reforms is just £2.6bn.
Within the review, Mr MacAlister highlights the need for major reforms built on a number of principles, including:
- A just and decisive child protection system
- Unlocking the potential of family networks
- Fixing the broken care market and giving children a voice
- Instituting five ‘missions’ for care experienced people
- Loving relationships
- Quality education
- A decent home
- Fulfilling work
- Good health as the foundations for a good life
- Realising the potential of the workforce
- A system that is relentlessly focused on children and families
Speaking about the importance of today’s debate, Ms Maskell said: