Martin Narey to lead review into residential care for children

The head of the government's adoption leadership board will report to the Prime Minister and education secretary

Sir Martin Narey

Sir Martin Narey will lead an independent review into children’s residential care, the Prime Minister has announced today.

Narey, the head of the government’s adoption leadership board, government advisor on children and author of an independent review into social work education, will report to the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, and David Cameron on the state of residential care homes for children.

This is so the government “can take every possible step to give these children the best start in life”, Cameron told the House of Commons.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Cameron responded to a question on how he would follow up his speech at the Conservative Party conference, where he pledged to fix the care system.

The review will look at the role of children’s homes within the care system, exploring when – and for which children – homes should be used, what works within residential care, and how to improve outcomes for the young people who live in them, and what improvements could be made to the way that residential care homes are commissioned, delivered, regulated and inspected.

Excellent public servant

The Prime Minister said the “most important” thing government could do is speed up adoption so more children can be adopted, and make sure that recent judgements – Re B and Re B-S, which have been linked to a drop in placement orders – did not harm the rise in adoptions that had happened since he was elected in 2010.

“For those who can’t be adopted we need to make sure that our residential care homes do the best job they can and that is why today I can announce that I have asked the former chief executive of Barnardo’s, Sir Martin Narey, who’s an excellent public servant who I worked with when he was at the Home Office, to conduct an independent review of children’s residential care,” Cameron told the House of Commons.

A call for evidence was launched slightly after the announcement.

Narey said: “I am delighted to accept this commission. Some of the best social work I’ve seen has taken place in residential homes, carried out by some outstanding staff. And yet there are doubts about whether we use residential care for the right children and frequent disquiet about children’s transitions to adulthood.”

The Independent Children’s Home Association welcomed the review, and hoped it will lead to “radical change”.

“This is a great opportunity for residential child care to shine…The sector will hope the review will be able to see the cumulative and crushing pressures placed upon [it] and evaluate how the resilience can be regained,” said Jonathan Stanley, chief executive of the association.

“Radical change is needed for children’s services and this lights the blue touchpaper for the national strategy that [has] been long needed.”


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8 Responses to Martin Narey to lead review into residential care for children

  1. MK October 28, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    I am sorry but Martin Narey leading an independent review?! He has received his income from the government in one form or another his whole career. Clearly he is now the ‘go to’ person to ensure any findings in a report fit with govenrment planned policy

  2. DP October 29, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

    A review of children’s residential care is overdue. However, this must also take into consideration the placements that young people are put in by Children’s Social Care that are not registered children’s homes but are deemed to be supported accommodation, etc.

    In my work, I am coming across more and more places like this that are solely being run for financial gain but are not meeting the needs of the young people who live there. On paper they look wonderful, as they are claiming to provide an array of packages to suit a young person’s needs. However, this is often not the case and young people do not receive the support that they desperately need.

  3. CJ October 30, 2015 at 8:28 am #

    Not entirely sure how any review of anything vaguely relating to residential children’s home will help any kind of adoption drive within the country. Our residential homes help the most complex and traumatised children within social care, with most being at an age where adoption is least likely. Perhaps they could help the transition to adulthood by providing actual services once a young person turns 18, instead of dropping support and making the threshold for services so high that most cannot access anything at all.

  4. FosterCarer64 October 30, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    As a Foster carer for ten years I have one experience of a child we cared for being moved to a care home. He was a bright likeable child. We cared for him twice but after a failed attempt at Kinship Care with an alcoholic drug using father we got him back two years later.. The problem of him living a challenging lifestyle for two years with his Dad were obvious when he returned but worse was to come when we realised he was allowed to disappear from school without us being informed or the school keeping records.
    Two reviews came and went without the school acknowledging his absence (glad to see the back of him). He only became difficult when he saw the giant loopholes that academy education provided. Eventually we asked for him to move because we couldn’t get support from his Social Worker or the School and his Reviewing Officer didn’t know who to believe (we are only the babysitters after-all)…
    Because he was pleasing himself and we seemed to be in the firing line more than the two agencies who were failing him,- we put notice in for him to be moved… his behaviour after a year was having an impact on our child and the other Fostered child and nobody else cared unless it was to avoid accountability and blame. He went to a children’s home.
    At the Children’s Home our “safe Care” was immediately undone. Infact we can’t understand why we need a strict written “safe Care” plan if the children’s home didn’t need one… His life changed and late nights and long bus journeys to wander around a city centre where his first encounters with the Police happened.
    He was allowed to use his mobile phone wherever and whenever he wanted (day or night).
    No safe care regarding his use of the internet.
    He began using his phone to contact family (abusers). My own 4 grown-up children began reporting that he is posting on facebook at all hours of the night or day and is in contact with the wrong people.
    At one point they were convinced he was being groomed by someone who pretended to be female and had asked for rude photographs. We reported what we knew to no avail but considering he had been approved for kinship care with his drug using alcoholic Father for two years we didn’t hold out much hope that our concerns would be listened to.
    After his all-nighters on facebook he was allowed to remain at the children’s home because he was “too ill to go to school” the following day and we found out because he told facebook. Soon after he was in more trouble with the Police and after a couple of years he was back in full contact with his drug and alcohol family. Independent living began and he was soon in prison.
    I believe Children need better supervision and safe-care in children’s homes. I also believe there should be more done to support the child and stop the rot.

  5. mrmoon October 30, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

    martin narey ruined the prison service when he was DG, i have no faith in him to do anything, especially not independantly

  6. Ann Noble November 4, 2015 at 11:14 am #

    why is the head of adoption agencies leading an inquiry… of course he will say all children should be adopted forget about what is best for the children…… is the wolf protecting the chicken run

  7. Patch November 12, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

    Ann Noble, Mrmoon and MK’s comments are telling. As in the case of judicial bias, an independent review must not only be impartial, but be seen to be impartial. Martin Narey’s chequered history makes him an entirely inappropriate choice for this sensitive role, and means the review is tainted even before it begins.

    You have only to consider how other ‘independent reviews’ he has undertaken have been received. c.f:

    Anyone else would appreciate this and defer to someone with more visible integrity.

  8. Andrea November 15, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    Such cynicism MK/DP/CJ/MrMoon and Ann – I agree!

    FosterCarer64 – agree with your concerns also – but you are not alone in your frustration – as a manager, it is surprisingly difficult to get people (including some foster carers) to accept that children, which includes teenagers, need protection and that rules should be in place and the expectation that they are followed be made clear, along with repercussions if they are not – the cry goes up ” just typical teenagers” with the stunningly stupid comparison by some social workers that their teenagers are similar ( I think not, unless they are admitting abuse). There are too many people involved in the decision making process, and while I absolutely agree that the child’s view should be taken into consideration, that is different from doing as they ask. Assessments of family members as foster carers – just a less expensive option cloaked in the pretence that children do better within their own family – of course they do, if it’s not a neglectful and/or abusive one. The State should come clean – it’s interest is in saving money – in which case take action when the child is young enough for us to have a real impact, not sit by and watch with the pretence of ‘supporting’ while the child’s life changes are eroded.