This week is Children’s Mental Health Week, a week after the Government published its strategy for reforming children’s social care.
Stable Homes, Built on Love: Implementation Strategy and Consultation on Children’s Social Care Reform 2023 is a response to the findings and recommendations of three independent reviews:
- The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care (The Care Review) 2022;
- The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel (the Panel) review into the deaths of Star Hobson and Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (the National Review) 2022;
- and The Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) Children’s Social Care market study 2022.
These three reviews showed that the current care system is fragmented, and is often failing to adequately meet the needs of vulnerable children and families across the country.
The new strategy is aimed at improving support to children and families by focussing on early help and intervention, so that issues can be resolved before they escalate. This includes early help with issues such as mental health, domestic abuse and addiction. Under the new strategy, there will more of a focus on kinship care, with the aim of prioritising family led solutions and increasing support for kinship carers. Similarly, foster carers will receive more support in the form of above inflation increases to their allowance. The Government will also be investing in a recruitment and retention programme to maintain a strong and stable workforce of social workers, who can then sustain quality relationships with vulnerable children and their families.
The Government has said that this new strategy will be backed by a £200 million investment over the next two years, and that this will lay the groundwork for long term improvement.
We as practitioners welcome this strategy, and we look with interest to see whether it will bring the much needed change to the current care system, to better support vulnerable children and their families. Kinship care in particular is shown to improve a child's outcomes, as partner Samantha Little discusses in this article.
How we can help
Our team of specialist lawyers can advise you on a range of issues affecting and involving children and have a wealth of experience representing parents and children in care proceedings and in all circumstances where social services become involved in children's lives.
Our children law team are also members of the Association of Lawyers for Children and the Law Society Children Panel.