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The Need for a 'Reset' in Children's Social Care

There’s been a lot of revelations in Children’s Social Care recently- both with the horrors coming to light from Calcot Services Children’s homes in the mainstream news, and through the information gathered and recommendations from a government sponsored independent review by Josh MacAlister, published in May 2022. It’s clear that there is a great need for an urgent reset in the entire children’s social care system.

With the current system, there are approximately 80,000 children in care in the UK. This number has been steadily rising over the last couple decades, and without changes it would be expected to reach 100,000 in 10 years time. The number of foster homes in the UK in 2021 was approximately 45,000, leaving a huge shortfall of beds that has led local authorities to commissioning an ever increasing number of private children’s homes to provide accommodation and care for children in care. The issue is, some of these private children’s homes like Calcot Services are making record profits by charging local authorities large sums for specialist services, only later for it to come out that some of the services were not provided as billed for, evidence of inadequate staffing levels, incidents of children being groomed or abused by staff-members, or in some cases sexually assaulted by other resident children. The reports coming out from Calcot Services are shocking and horrifying, and a compelling example of the need for systemic changes.

Recently being published, the government’s independent review on children's social care led by Josh MacAlister has also found that the current system where children are removed from parents and were placed in the care of strangers, either foster carers or children’s homes often at great expense to the local authorities, is in need of a complete ‘reset’. The recommendations that have come from this report are for the entire social care system to make a complete change, and rather focus on keeping the child’s loving relationships at the centre of the care planning for children. Whether this be by putting high levels of support in place to either be able to keep children where they are safely, or to keep children at least within members of their family network- with kinship carers. It’s yet to be seen how the children’s social care system will take on board and action these recommendations, but following this report it’s safe to say there should soon be a drastic change for children in care!

Both of these recent reports seem to indicate that there is likely to be an ever increasing reliance on kinship carers in the future. We’re encouraged to see that the government independent review seems to have confirmed what we already know about the positives of children being raised in kinship carer. We hope that in this recommended ‘reset’, kinship carers will obtain higher status in the care system, along with more support offered.

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