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Major care review launched

Experts to examine reasons behind record care applications and soaring levels of children in care

Published on 15th November 2017

A major review of the number of care applications and high levels of children going into the care system has been launched by leading figures in the children’s sector.

The seven month sector-led review into the care crisis aims to look at why care applications are at a record level and why the number of children is at its highest point since 1985.

“We are facing a crisis and, truth be told, we have no very clear strategy for meeting the crisis,” 
said Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court and stakeholder in the review.

The review aims to:

  • examine the reasons for the rise in care proceedings and number of children in care
  • retain a focus on achieving the best outcomes for children and families
  • take account of the current national economic, financial, legal and policy context that impacts on families and on local authority and court practice
  • identify specific changes to local authority and court systems and national and local policies and practices that will help safely stem the increase in the number of care cases coming before the family courts and the number of children in the care system.

The purpose of the review is to identify specific changes to local authority and court systems and national and local policies and practices that will help safely stem the increase in the number of care cases coming before the family courts and the number of children in the care system. However the review will do so in a way that retains focus on achieving the best outcomes for children and families and takes account of the current national economic, financial, legal and policy context that impacts on families and on local authority and court practice.

The Stakeholder Group comprises leading figures from the children’s sector including Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, Anthony Douglas, Chief Executive of Cafcass, Tony Hunter, Chief Executive of SCIE and Alison Michalska, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS).

Other stakeholders within the group include directors of children’s services, academics, local government representatives and childcare lawyers.

“The crisis has an impact on children, young people and families and on those working in the child welfare and family justice systems,” said a statement on the review. “All stakeholders have knowledge and expertise about the service responses that can make a difference to children and families and may help to safely avert the need for care proceedings.”

“There is a groundswell of opinion that those most affected by the crisis should take a combined lead in promoting ways of supporting families to avoid problems escalating,” the statement added.

The review, launched this week, is set to conclude in June 2018. Chaired by Nigel Richardson, recently retired Director of Children's Services, Leeds City Council, the review is facilitated by the Family Rights Group and funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

For the first stage of the review, there will be a call for information and emerging evidence about effective approaches to engaging positively with families at an early stage and enhancing the chances of resolving family difficulties between December and March next year.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the review can send in evidence about the drivers for the rise in care proceedings and number of children in the care system or any research findings about policies and practices that may safely lead to reductions in care applications and children coming into or remaining in care to carecrisis@frg.org.uk.

A report into the findings is set to be published in June 2018.

 

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