ADCS rejects idea that too much money is spent on care placements

President of the ADCS tells ministers there is not enough money in the system 'full stop'

Stuart Gallimore

The president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has issued a stark warning about the future financial viability of services that protect children and support families.

Speaking at the annual ADCS conference in Manchester, Stuart Gallimore told the two ministers in attendance, education secretary Damian Hinds and children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi,  “there is not enough money in the system, full stop”, and dismissed arguments that current funding is sufficient, but spent disproportionately on care placements.

“There is simply no fat left to trim, instead authorities up and down the country have found themselves having to cut back on early help services, which makes no financial sense,” Gallimore said.

Speaking to Community Care, Gallimore referenced a recent Twitter exchange between the chief social worker for children, Isabelle Trowler, and former ADCS president Alison Michalska, where Trowler had suggested there was enough money in the system currently, it was just being spent in the wrong areas.

“It’s just a bit of a rubbish debate,” Gallimore said.

“I think it is too simplistic to offer it on the presumption that for children in care, all of the children in care, that care wasn’t the right place for them to be; that they could all have been diverted and that would have saved money.

“It almost feels to be predicated on an argument that care is inherently bad, and I don’t subscribe to that,” Gallimore said.

Going forward, he said directors have to be “noisier” around making the case for funding so councils can invest in long-term good services, adding the costs of placements “are going to be there for the foreseeable future”.

“What we need is fair funding. The innovation fund has been helpful in doing what it said – providing some upfront money for people to innovate – but that’s not a sustainable way of running services,” Gallimore said.

He added: “Short-term, ring-fenced sums of money – while helpful – can never be the answer. What local authorities need to know is their revenue base has been increased by a sum of money they will get that and next year, so they can long-term invest in services that make a difference.”

‘Clear message’

In a speech at the conference, children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi said that he had heard the “clear message” on funding.

“I want to acknowledge this, and say that I am listening – and I particularly want to work with you to understand the evidence for additional investment,” Zahawi said.

Gallimore welcomed the focus on social work reform and said he was “delighted” that the new social work regulator, Social Work England, was progressing, but urged more focus on the wider children’s workforce.

“Social workers, key workers, early help practitioners, youth workers, our unsung residential workers, and health visitors…. It is the quality of the relationships they forge that make the difference. Their emotional wellbeing is key if they are to be effective as they bear the brunt of the public service reductions,” Gallimore said.

“I qualified as a social worker over 30 years ago, but I cannot claim to have had to deal with the volume and complexity that is taken for granted today. It is why I go out on a monthly basis with them, so I know exactly what it’s like. It is incumbent on us to find ways not only to encourage the next generation but to support our current ones who make a difference day in day out.”

More from Community Care

6 Responses to ADCS rejects idea that too much money is spent on care placements

  1. A Man Called Horse July 9, 2018 at 11:35 am #

    Trowler like the Government should resign, both unfit for purpose. Trowler sounds more and more like a Tory mouthpiece.

    Years of Austerity and cuts to welfare have helped to push families deeper into crisis. Regional variations are reflected by a concentration of families in crisis in poor areas in deprived regions.

  2. sabine July 9, 2018 at 12:41 pm #

    Well done, I like Stuart Gallimore’s approach.

  3. Mark Keeley July 10, 2018 at 8:12 am #

    At last an honest assessment and assertive response to simplistic arguments about funding and resources by a senior leader!!!

  4. sw111 July 10, 2018 at 10:23 am #

    I agree with Stuart Gallimore. The financial strain due to care placements is too simplistic and does not give the full picture. Some local authorities take pride on their budget management as to how they avoid waste by not using external placements but the outcome for children is poor with too many placement breakdowns, children moving from one foster placement to another.
    That is not in the children’s best interest and it is financially disastrous.

  5. Lisa July 11, 2018 at 7:45 am #

    Stuart Gallimore – finally a leader who is representing the need for fair funding and supporting not only social workers but ALL child care professionals. Long may it continue!

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  6. londonboy July 13, 2018 at 7:43 am #

    Quote – “It almost feels to be predicated on an argument that care is inherently bad, and I don’t subscribe to that,” Gallimore said.

    Hmm. If a child enters Care there has been a failure in one or another sphere, in a parents capacity to support their children at home, in services ability to support parents in their parenting role, in the States failure to invest in an environment where families (one of the key building blocks of society?) are supported. Care is the safety net for these failures.

    I feel the same way about Adoption. I always feel nervous when I hear the case being made that these systems are inherently good. How could they be unless you are talking about someone else’s child not your own? And yes we want the best Care system for children who enter it but although it is good that it exists it is bad that it has to.