‘Better evidence needed of the care system’s impact on children’s lives’

Children’s services are still “obsessed” with thresholds and keeping children safe by referring them to formal social care, but there is no evidence that this improves outcomes, a leading director told delegates at Community Care LIVE.

Speaking at a session on changes to children’s services, Andrew Webb, corporate director for children and young people at Stockport Council, said looked-after children did not do as well as other children. But he said there was a need for better evidence on the impact of social care on the lives of children and asked: “Would they have done less well if they had stayed at home?

Webb, also co-chair of the Association of Directors of Social Services children and families committee, said the government started from the wrong point in its reforms to children’s services.
Rather than beginning by changing the structure of departments, he said that should have been the final step after changing processes and developing the children’s workforce.

Caroline Abrahams, director of public policy at children’s charity NCH, called for more explicit links between the Every Child Matters reforms and the government’s work to end child poverty.
She said it “should have been braver” by naming the “economic well-being” outcome in Every Child Matters “not being poor”.

Sexual crimes expert Ray Wyre said there could be another Soham in the near future, despite the government’s reforms to children’s services, including its new vetting and barring scheme.

He called for child protection staff to be better equipped to deal with “intimidation, threats and seduction” by possible abusers.


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