Bloom’s view: Independent review into children’s social care

Mike Farren, Customer Development Manager at Bloom, shares his thoughts on the Education Secretary’s newly launched independent review into children’s social care.

“On Friday 15th January 2021, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson launched an independent review into children’s social care. He promised this to be a “wide-ranging, independent review to address poor outcomes for children in care as well as strengthening families to improve vulnerable children’s lives”.

“The government’s 2019 manifesto committed to reviewing the children’s social care system to make sure children and young people get the support they need, so this has been welcomed throughout the sector.

“Children’s services have been under intense pressure for more than a decade as a result of rising numbers of children being taken into care, huge austerity cuts to local authority budgets and increased levels of poverty that have left many families struggling to cope.

“Children who have been into care are more likely to become homeless or go to prison. More than a third of care leavers (39%) are not in education, employment or training compared with 13% of all 19- to 21-year-olds. While 43% of all pupils go on to higher education by age 19, only 13% of care leavers do.

“The review will look to reshape how children interact with the care system, looking at the process from referral through to becoming looked after.

“I’m hoping that that review will highlight and then find solutions on major challenges encountered by children’s services nationally such as the increase in the numbers of looked after children, the inconsistencies in children’s social care practice and outcomes across the country and the failure of the system to provide enough stable homes for children.

“A major positive of the upcoming review is that the voices and experiences of children, young people or adults who have been looked after, or who have received help or support from a social worker, will be heard. Their experiences will be prioritised and reflected within the final report, which is fantastic news all round.”

The review is independently led by Josh MacAlister, a former schoolteacher who founded the social work charity Frontline.