By Janet Kay
The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, announced in January 2021, is calling for ideas to help ensure the children’s social care system in England operates in a way that better meets the needs of children and young people. I’ve been part of the Experts by Experience Group for the Review, and I feel positive about the potential for transformational change.
The Review is calling on all organisations, professionals, and individuals with experience of the children’s care system to use their experience and insight to contribute to a report which will be reviewed by ministers and government.
The Review will “address major challenges, including the sharp increase in recent years in the number of looked after children, high and rising unit costs, the inconsistencies in children’s social care practice and outcomes across the country, and the failure of the system to provide sufficient stable loving homes for children.”
This is an excellent opportunity for us as kinship carers to make our voices heard and use our insight and experience to fight for better support for kinship families.
Submitted views and ideas will help to inform the review’s final recommendations to be published next Spring, alongside suggestions made through other avenues such as focus groups, research, and engagement with children, young people, professionals, and others with lived experience. Kinship is feeding into this work by finalising a set of recommendations reflecting its work with kinship carers, extensive evidence base, and insights from programmes which it will be launching before Christmas.
Josh MacAlister, Chair of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, told Children & Young People Now: “It doesn’t matter if you are a professor who has spent years considering this in the abstract or a family who are experiencing children’s social care right now – pointing out problems is the easy bit, coming up with solutions that will work is hard.”
This review has focused closely on listening to and learning from care experienced people, including kinship carers, in order to determine the changes needed in children’s social care. As kinship carers, we have struggled for a long time with a lack of recognition of our role and our family needs, but this review has stated that we should be prioritised and supported. It’s clear that improving our family lives is a key element of their recommendations. But we need to keep sharing our ideas about what would make a better future for us as the design for a new children’s social care system is developed.
This opportunity is rare, and we may not get it again. Kinship carers need to grab this chance to influence the development of services for themselves and their children with both hands!
What do you have to do?
Have you got an idea that could transform the way the children’s care system operates? Maybe it’s something specific to your circumstances? Whether it’s something that can be fixed quickly, or something that could take years to implement, no idea is too big or too small. This is your chance to have your say.
Head to the Call for Ideas page for specific instructions, you will be asked some simple ‘tick box’ questions, and then will have space to explain your idea. If you are not sure how to get it down in words, try answering these questions regarding your idea:
- What will change as a result of your idea?
- Who will be affected if your idea is implemented?
- Are there any challenges or risks associated with implementing your idea?
You have until 5pm on 15th December 2021 to submit your ideas here.