Rachael Maskell in the House of Commons
Rachael Maskell in the House of Commons

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
The debate will provide MPs the opportunity to raise matters highlighted in the detail of the report, as well as to raise challenges experienced within their own local services or for families which are in their constituency.

Speaking about the importance of today’s debate, Ms Maskell said:
“There are currently over 82,000 children in the care of the state, with this figure set to rise to 100,000 in the next 10 years unless there is a significant change in direction. As MPs we all have stories of children struggling to find an appropriate local placement, high turnover of social workers when stability is the one thing a child needs, and significant levels of trauma when our CAMHS services are overstretched. Tragically, there have been too many cases when child protection fails, and another serious case review is needed. 
“Precious children and young people are falling through the cracks in the system and need our advocacy to ensure that they receive the help and care needed when they are at their most vulnerable, and a secure, loving, forever home. We need a system that relentlessly focuses on the child.  “Rethinking how children can have the very best care and support in safe and loving families and placements needs urgent attention. Local authority children’s services need investment and reform, social workers need a career structure which helps them to grow in skills and confidence in one of the most challenging of professions, and families need help when life is challenging and complex. 
“I hope Government will listen to the concerns of myself and other MPs supporting and participating in this debate, and urgently take forward the recommendations of the review, so that we can ensure that every baby, child or young person is safe, loved and cared for. What could be more important?”  
Data used is taken from Josh MacAlister’s Independent Review into Childrens’ Social Care
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