Indicators misleading, claims Webb

The way outcomes are measured for children in care must be radically overhauled, a children’s services leader told Community Care LIVE.

Association of Directors of Social Services children and families committee co-chair Andrew Webb said it was wrong to compare the achievements of looked-after children with those of the mainstream population.

Webb said he did not agree with the analysis in last year’s children in care green paper that the state had “betrayed” the 60,000 children in its care or the media representation of the care system as a “train wreck”.

He said health and education outcomes for looked-after children had improved over the past few years. And he suggested their outcomes should not be compared with the general population but to similar children who had not gone into care, to give a more accurate reflection of the effect of services.

He added: “Why do we persist with these kinds of indicators? Are we measuring the right thing?”

Webb suggested new ways must be found to measure the experience and outcomes of care leavers at 25, encompassing employment and family life, to give a picture of the longterm impact of the care system.

He said councils should not be trying to devise a “one-size-fits-all” approach to support care leavers. He argued that a third would be relatively successful after leaving care, a third would “do OK” and a third would have real problems and different approaches would need to be developed for each group.

Care Leavers’ Association national development worker Victoria Hull called for the introduction of a “consistent adult” who would be available to a young person throughout their time in care.


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