Removing assessment targets may hit child protection funding

Removing assessment deadlines will make it more difficult for children's services to secure funding from councils, a former director has warned.

Removing assessment deadlines will make it more difficult for children’s services to secure funding from councils, a former director has warned.

It follows the government’s pledge to remove statutory child protection assessment deadlines and the distinction between initial and core assessments by the end of the year.

Deborah Absalom, former director of young people’s services in Bexley, Greater London, said although targets had hindered social work practice, they had helped directors fight for money.

“They have made the need for funding very clear in local authorities where you have to fight for resources in that area,” she told the CIPFA conference on social care funding.

“On a practice level, Munro rightly recommended we lessen that target-driven culture, but I think children’s services will have a much harder time arguing their case when they don’t have those hard numbers to fall back on.”

Absalom, now a children’s services consultant, said she did not know of anything children’s services departments could do to prepare for this change, adding “it’s very wait-and-see”.

But there was some hope in Graham Allen’s reports on early intervention. “There is good work going on about cost models in early intervention,” she told Community Care. “People are looking at how we get some hard evidence together about services. That’s really positive.”

Alan Foster, a senior accountant for children’s social care in Gateshead told Community Care: “I think maybe securing funding without those hard numbers could be more difficult, but at the same time, Munro has raised the profile of child protection so much that it’s a priority area in all councils, which means securing funding should actually be easier.”

Kerry Newson, senior accountant for children’s social care in Cambridgeshire agreed. “My council has put additional funding into child protection as a direct result of Munro’s report, because we’re changing so much about the way we work, so that’s definitely not the case in my council. I think she’s drawn more attention to the need for funding in child protection.”

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