The All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC), supported by the National Children's Bureau, has today (4/02/16) launched an inquiry into local authority run children's social care. It will ask how these vital services are responding to reduced funding and increased demand, and assess what reforms are needed in order to improve support for vulnerable children.
The inquiry, which will publish its findings by the beginning of 2017, comes at a time when children's social care is having to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape and meet new challenges, such as radicalisation and child sexual exploitation, despite tighter budgets. In addition, local authorities are implementing a range of reforms following recent changes to the legislative framework, including those to special education needs and disability and adoption, at the same time as changes to social work practice for children and families are being put in place.
While the focus of the inquiry will be on children's social care servicesin England, the inquiry will seek to draw upon evidence from across the UK in order to share examples of effective practice. The APPGC will hear evidence from local authority leaders and service providers and will also draw on the experiences of children, young people and families themselves.
Tim Loughton MP, co-chair of the APPGC, said:
'With the introduction of widespread reforms, a new inspection framework and changes to demand and resourcing, there is an urgent need to establish how local services are adapting to the new climate. Of course local authority providers face barriers to delivering effective services for children, but they also innovate and we hope this inquiry will provide a means of sharing that learning, as well as showing where policy and legislation must change.'
Baroness Howarth of Breckland, co-chair of the APPGC, said:
'Over the next months, we will hear from local services about exactly how the needs of families, children and young people are changing and whether the resourcing is adequate to meet these challenges. With so many children who are facing difficulties depending on these services being effective and timely, these questions must be answered urgently.'