Children’s minister Tim Loughton has agreed that children-in-need are slipping through gaps in services following Community Care’s recent investigation which found 8,000 cases were unallocated to any professional.
“I think it’s a fair comment and it’s probably come about because of the huge emphasis and focusing of resources on child protection as a result of the Baby P case.
“However, it’s a false economy because if we can get to those families sooner and find a solution for them then it will be cheaper in the long-run. We’ve got to start thinking about the gradual progression of a child in the care system. So the failure to provide parenting support early on means a child moves from early intervention to becoming a child-in-need. Failure to support them then means they may need to move into care.”
He said local authorities should be and would be freed up from more statutory restrictions in order to prioritise early intervention.
When asked about local authorities who wanted to take money from children in care in order to focus on early intervention but were worried about their statutory obligations, Loughton said the government was already working on cutting back on statutory obligations for local authorities.
“I’ve already just cut 7,000 words from the leaving care guidance that’s coming out soon. People at the frontline don’t need to wade through acres of regulation, they need to be freed up to do the job.”
However, he said early intervention should also be regarded as making more efficient use of social worker time, which he hoped the Munro review would achieve.
“Social workers need to be out there eye-balling the cases and have the time to make more effective and reflective judgements. That needs to happen quite quickly, we need social workers to be more proactive and not reactive.”
He denied the early intervention grant was largely going to be spent on early years funding and said there was a component for those adolescents often on the edge of care- such as those engaging in drug and alcohol abuse.
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