The government has hinted at a new round of sanctions and perks for services and practitioners working with children, based on their readiness to intervene earlier and to work with the most challenging families.
Responding to evidence from voluntary and statutory agencies to a policy review of children and young people, the Treasury has promised to consider what can be done to “incentivise” providers to use their resources to help children and parents at the earliest possible opportunity and to “incentivise” workers to engage with families who are difficult to work with.
Further incentives are to be considered around the delivery of services that meet the needs of disabled children and their families effectively.
In a discussion paper published this week, the Treasury reveals that evidence gathered during the first stage of its review announced in the 2006 Budget highlights a series of on-going barriers to preventive work, despite some improvements.
Barriers include the way performance of local services is measured, the focus on acute need inherent in some central government-set targets, problems prioritising funding for prevention and early intervention, and a lack of capacity in the workforce.
The Treasury promises to address each of these in the next phase of the review in a bid to stop families being told by social care teams “that things are not bad enough; that there are children with more urgent needs”. It will also look at the role of universal services – and particularly schools and health services – in delivering more preventive support.
The review will report in the spring and inform the Comprehensive Spending Review in the summer, which will set departmental spending plans and priorities for the following three years.
Contact the author: Lauren Revans