Care Review response: Josh MacAlister says government 'must go further and faster’ with reform

Joe Lepper
Thursday, February 2, 2023

Chair of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care Josh MacAlister has warned ministers that they need to “go further and faster” with reform, following their response to his recommendations.

Josh MacAlister chaired the Care Review. Picture: Frontline
Josh MacAlister chaired the Care Review. Picture: Frontline

The government’s Children’s Social Care Implementation Strategy has been published today (2 February) following MacAlister’s review and details a package of measures aimed at improving early support for families and the experience of looked-after children and care leavers.

This is backed by £200m investment over two years and includes prioritising care placements near to children’s family, friends, and schools as well £9m to improving support for kinship carers.

A further£45m is being invested in piloting a bespoke early help support scheme for families in 12 local areas “giving them access to local support with the focus on the help they need rather than bureaucratic boundaries and assessments between services and professionals”.

However, MacAlister’s review had put forward more than 80 proposals for reform and called for £2.6bn funding over five years.

MacAlister has warned that “without a whole system reset on the scale set out by the review, outcomes for children and families will remain stubbornly poor, more children will grow up in care and costs will continue to spiral”.

He added: “The government’s plan gets us started down the right path, but it must go further and faster if it is to reach the tipping point of change that children need.

“Children in the care of the state - the government’s children - need to come first. Parents across the country put their children first and our government should act no differently."

He added that the £2.6bn investment he had proposed would “save the taxpayer soon after”.

“More importantly, we’d reach the tipping point to reverse these trends, meaning that 30,000 more children could be living safely and thriving with their families by 2032,” he said.

Despite his concerns he welcomed “notable measures” including support for kinship carers, early help for families “and a shift towards a care system that builds rather than breaks relationships”.

“These are positive changes and the new direction being set is very welcome,” he added.

The government’s strategy has also been published in response to a review into the murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson in 2020, as well as a Competition and Markets Authority report into profit making by private children’s social care providers.

Also included in the strategy is an above inflation increase in foster carers’ allowance and £25m investment in their recruitment and retention.

“Our wide-ranging reforms will put strong relationships at are the heart of the care system,” said children’s minister Claire Coutinho.

“From supporting our brilliant foster carers, kinship carers and social workers to getting early help to families and improving children’s homes, we want every child to get the support and protection they need.”

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