Date: 23 May 2022
Responding to the independent review of children’s social care’s final report, Sharon Martin, NIROMP Chair, said:
“Today the independent children’s social care review published its final report, which provides wide-ranging recommendations for a fundamental reset in children’s social care.
“The review, chaired by Josh MacAlister, makes more than 70 recommendations to “reshape the system”, including changes to legislation, regulations, and guidance. Some of the proposals have the potential to make life much better for children in care, particularly for those children whose families can be properly supported to look after them well.
“The Review addresses knotty issues like multidisciplinary working, the ongoing need for better information sharing, and the broken care market. Crucially, the Review team consulted with thousands of care-experienced children, young people and adults, and the practitioners who work with them.
“State intervention in a child and family’s private family life has increasingly resulted in removal of children into care or adoption. Fundamental change is needed. Different parts of the system need to better help families in crisis, to provide decisive action in response to abuse, to unlock the potential of families to raise children with support of systems that show care for all.
“NIROMP has long called for emphasis on putting lifelong loving relationships at the heart of the care system. Importantly, the Review talks about a system that has not and still does not always get it right – with outcomes for children that continue to be unacceptably poor and costs that continue to rise.
“To have the intended relational impact needed assumes a full commitment to investing the financial resources recommended by the Review. Child poverty including the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on families on the lowest incomes needs to be addressed and the building of an economy that is not predicated on a hostile environment and growth at any cost. It requires a commitment to tackling inequality, structural racism and hardships faced by many of the children and families we serve.
“Proposals to strengthen national advocacy services, and to make care experience a protected characteristic may act as a deterrent for people with care experience being discriminated against but this legal mechanism alone will not address stigma and oppression.
“Measures to challenge discrimination and oppression are to be welcomed, and the fact that so many black and minoritized children in care continue to experience structural racism says much about why we need increased attention to strengthening of their rights. Careful attention to the implications of wider legislative reform is needed including very careful consideration to the ‘British’ Bill of Rights and dilution of some protections.
“The report notes other significant reform programmes currently taking place. The Review’s recommendations will need to work in harmony with newly introduced or incoming reform programmes such as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, the SEND green paper, the Schools Bill and reforms within the NHS.
“The implications of the opt-out approach to the independent reviewing officer role requires more detail, such as how this will fit with the intention to build an ‘empowered workforce’ and ‘expert’ child protection practitioners. Withdrawal of the independent reviewing officer relationship for some children could result in their voices not always being heard and an important relationship lost. This all needs to be understood in the context of wider reforms such as the British Bill of Rights.
“NIROMP have a meeting on 14th June to consider some of the detail of the final report and more meetings will be planned to carefully work through the detail of the Review’s final report.
The Review’s final report can be downloaded: HERE