Welcome to CYP Now's annual Children in Care supplement.
The backdrop to the care system in these final weeks of 2017 is one that is all too familiar. Rising child poverty, too many families struggling to cope, and further cuts to early help services continue to be factors that contribute to a rising care population.
Crucially, concerns persist that too many children are found places based first and foremost on the basis of cost, rather than their very real and complex needs.
As ever though, the year ahead also presents fresh challenges and opportunities. Provision is gradually being expanded for young people to remain in care after they turn 18 across all four UK nations.
Moreover, the Children and Social Work Act has this year introduced a set of corporate parenting principles for local authorities in England. It places responsibility on councils in their entirety across all departments, a significant move for young people leaving care given the role of housing services in helping secure them accommodation. The act also extends the role of personal advisers to support care leavers to the age of 25, and further provisions for them are around the corner.
On the back of his government-commissioned reviews of adoption and residential child care, Sir Martin Narey's stocktake of foster care will soon be published. While the reports shed plenty of light, there have been calls for a whole-system review of England's care system, like the one under way in Scotland, to avoid the potential for piecemeal conclusions from reviews examining only separate parts of the system.
Given the nature of the work and the scale of pressure, developing and rewarding the children-in-care workforce has to be a national priority. As Cafcass chief executive Anthony Douglas put it recently, "this work is ‘emotional labour' and those providing it need help too" to be competent, proud and supported.
I hope you find this supplement to be a useful resource in supporting you in the vital work you do.
Editor-in-chief, Children & Young People Now
Read the full supplement online, download as a PDF or click on each title below to read individual articles:
As the number of children in care continues to rise, how are commissioners juggling the perennial challenge of placing children according to their needs at reasonable cost?
The skills required and challenges facing the workforce in providing quality care for looked-after young people, some of the most vulnerable in society.
The number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in England's care system is rising. How are councils meeting their care and support needs?
With two thirds of children in residential care experiencing significant mental health difficulties, children's homes are adapting to provide young people with specialist support.
How provision for young people to stay in care beyond the age of 18 differs across the four nations of the UK and details of plans to extend support entitlements.
What councils are doing to produce a "local offer", outlining the services that care leavers are entitled to and how this will improve their outcomes.