Family support services sidelined in drive to protect

Services for looked after children and those in need of protection are being improved at the expense of lower level support services for other children and families in need, the Commission for Social Care Inspection has warned.

The commission’s report, based on inspections of almost half of English councils between 2003 and 2005, finds that the government’s focus on safeguarding children and corporate parenting is leaving many families frustrated at their inability to access preventive and early intervention services.

CSCI chief inspector David Behan said that the report raised questions about councils’ capacity to deliver the Every Child Matters reforms and outcomes.

Family Welfare Association chief executive Helen Dent added that there would be a clear contradiction in allowing preventive services to suffer as the government pursued the reform agenda.

The report also highlights local authorities’ difficulties in recruiting and retaining foster carers, with some councils unable to provide appropriate placements for all looked after children.

Director of services at the Fostering Network, Hazel Halle, welcomed the report’s recognition that councils were providing better support for looked after children on the whole, but said more attractive financial and support packages for foster carers were urgently required.

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