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Government’s strategy for children’s social care offers promise for kinship, foster care and family help, but lack of immediate funding risks chance of real sector reform

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The government has today (Thursday, 2nd February) set out how it plans to roll out changes to the children’s social care system in England, following a major independent review published last year led by Josh MacAlister, alongside the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel into the tragic murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson, and that led by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Responding to the plans, Adoption UK CEO Emily Frith said:

“We welcome the principles in the plan, such as the focus on early support and investment in kinship and foster care in order to keep families together wherever we can. Investment in the social care workforce is also very welcome, allowing social workers to spend more time with families. But there is a mountain to climb to ensure every child gets the love and support they need throughout childhood. There is an urgent need for more investment in children’s social care – particularly given the impact of the global pandemic and the current cost of living crisis on children and families.”

Ms Frith continued: “Where it is not possible for children to live with their birth family, adoption is a vital option for children to grow up in loving families, but the plan barely mentions adoption, which risks perpetuating siloes within the care system between different forms of permanence.”

Adopter and former foster carer, Becky Brooks said: “I was a foster carer and fostered my children before adopting them. But they are still the same kids, irrespective of their legal status, with the same needs and the same potential. We must see care experience as a continuum and not as separate sets of children.”

The plan commits £200M to be spent on the reforms, which falls well short of the Review’s recommended £2.6BN over the next five years, meaning many of the plan’s ambitions will have to wait until the next spending round.

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