The state of funding for children’s social care is a “ticking time bomb”, the president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services has warned.
Speaking yesterday at the association’s annual conference, Alison O’Sullivan said she was deeply concerned about the full impact of government cuts on children. “The signs are now all too visible that the system is approaching the limits of capacity to continue to absorb such pressures,” she said.
Councils saw their budgets cut by 40% during the previous government, and will see them fall further under the Conservatives.
She praised local authority efforts to protect funding for children’s services, but warned there is a “looming crisis in relation to our ability to keep a balance in the system between investment in early help and the costs of late intervention”.
She called on the government to monitor the situation closely and consider if steps should be taken to prevent “irreversible damage” to the sector’s ability to prevent serious harm occurring to children.
In an impassioned speech to the ADCS delegation, O’Sullivan reaffirmed her commitment to extending Staying Put, which allows children in foster care to remain with their foster families until they are 21, to residential care.
She told Community Care: “It just isn’t right that we don’t provide more support for young people for longer. We know children leaving residential care are the most vulnerable and they deserve the opportunity to have our support for longer, as well as children in foster care.”
“I realise there are challenges with resourcing, because it would cost more money, but if it’s the right thing to do we need to look hard at how we can do it,” she said.
Devolving further powers to local authorities is also on the president’s agenda, and she called for the government to give councils responsibility for social work bursary funding.
Improving child and adolescent mental health services is a priority too, and “long overdue some attention”, she said.