Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, responded to the Children’s Commissioner’s annual Stability Index for children in care
“Councils are currently supporting record numbers of children and young people through the care system. Ninety children a day entered care in the last year, and councils saw the biggest annual increase of children in care since 2010. This is against a backdrop of unprecedented cuts to local authority budgets, with children’s services alone facing a funding gap of around £2 billion by 2020.
“It is really important that children have the best possible placement or school place to meet their needs, and no child should be kept in an inappropriate environment simply to avoid another move. Decisions about the care of individual children and young people must be made with the best interests of those children firmly in mind, and there will be situations where moves are required despite the best possible efforts of social workers, carers, teachers and often children themselves to make circumstances work.
“While 91 per cent of council-maintained schools are good or outstanding, no council wants to see any child placed in a poor school. This is why councils should be allowed to step in and improve struggling schools that are outside of local authority control. Across the country, hundreds of schools, often in disadvantaged areas, are already being turned around thanks to the intervention of councils to deliver and maintain strong leadership, outstanding classroom teaching and appoint effective support staff and governors.
“Clearly there is more that can be done to make sure that every child has the positive experience of care that the majority receive, and we will ensure that these findings are shared widely with councils across the country, while supporting local areas to learn from good practice elsewhere.
“But there is also a role for government to play, in supporting councils to provide the best possible experience for children in care, and it is disappointing the report makes little mention of this or recognises the funding pressures and demand facing council children’s services. A national workforce strategy would go a long way towards addressing the shortage of children’s social workers. We would also like to see a national recruitment campaign for foster carers to make sure we have a choice of families to place children with to best meet their needs.”
Helping children and young people to fulfil their potential is a key ambition of all councils, but our children’s services are under increasing pressure.
Bright Futures is our call for fully funded children's services.
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