Key issues highlighted in new ADCS position paper
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Increased support for kinship carers and further debate around unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) are among priorities outlined in the Association of Directors of Children’s Services’ (ADCS) position statement for 2021.
The position statement What is Care, which was first launched in 2012, has been refreshed to take into account the changing political landscape and increase in the care population over the last decade.
Issues the latest ADCS paper is looking to address is an increased use of kingship care and special guardianship (SGOs) arrangements.
The ADCS points out that the number of children leaving care under SGOs now outnumbers those leaving to be adopted, however this area of care has “not received the same policy attention or investment as adoption”.
It adds that kinship care, “if well supported, has a strong track record in providing stability” and keeping families together.
Another trend the position paper is looking to tackle is the increase in UASC supported by councils. Between 2008 and 2020 referrals of this group of children, many of whom have suffered trauma, has increased by 82 per cent.
In particular, the ADCS says it would “welcome further debate about the response to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people on remand, who are accommodated under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 and whether this is the right response to meeting their needs”.
The position statement acknowledges improved support over the last decade for care leavers and flexibility for young people to remain in care beyond their eighteenth birthday.
But it raises concerns about the increased role of the private sector in children’s care.
The statement says that over the last decade “there has been a significant shift in the provision and ownership of residential care placements, with local authorities less likely to own and operate children’s homes. Another phenomenon is the worrying increase in the number of large organisations, backed by private equity investors, entering into children’s residential and fostering services".
“This new reality is not reflected in regulatory frameworks and in the current fiscal context public services are operating in, the ability of private equity companies to extract huge profit from the care of children is concerning, as is the level of debt and the implications that financial failure would mean for children and young people.”
It adds that directors of children’s services are particularly concerned about the “fragmented development” of social care and education policy, in support for young people with complex needs.