Children’s Social Care: The Way Forward
Children’s social care in England is currently not fit for purpose. It alienates families and communities, fails to protect children, and places older children at increased risk of involvement in gangs and sexual exploitation. The Parents, Families and Allies Network (PFAN) brought together five organisations working with parents involved in different aspects of children’s social care to make suggestions for transformational change. This report is based on the experiences of parents who have lived experience of children’s social care and allies, who work in children’s social care or are social work academics.
The way forward
Tammy Mayes co-chair of PFAN said:
“The parents we consulted identified the key areas for change and made their own constructive suggestions to transform children’s social care which are detailed in the report.”
Professor Andy Bilson, co-chair of PFAN said
“We are concerned that the children’s social care system, under the pressure caused by the deaths of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson will restart the cycle of escalating investigations and blaming of parents which has seen one in every 16 children in England investigated before the age of five. To avoid this, transformational change is needed as well as urgent reforms.
We will need to nurture and test out a range of strategies which shift the power from government and public services to parents, children and communities. Alongside this, immediate changes are required to children’s social care led by parents and children with lived experience of children’s social care.”
Examples of approaches to provide the bottom up change necessary to transform children’s social care include the organisations that have created this report along with, for example, Hilary Cottam’s work on Radical Help and the Community Paradigm’s approach to transfer power from the public service institutions to the community. The report identifies detailed specific changes required urgently and some examples that show how these changes may be achieved. Key to this is the need for children’s social care and other agencies working with children to move from a culture of parent blame and child rescue to partnership and participation.
The report calls for parent advocacy to be developed alongside services as a powerful way to change organisational cultures in child welfare systems and to improve support for children and families.
At the same time the current system lacks enough champions with the remit to develop the new ways of working that are required. The report calls for a dedicated workforce, working in partnership with families, whose job is to co-produce services with families; to promote the use of these services as alternatives to care and investigative approaches to families; and to raise public awareness of the need for change.
Tammy Mayes and Professor Andy Bilson
Co-chairs of Parents, Families and Allies Network on behalf of:
Parents, Families and Allies Network Love Barrow Families New Beginnings
Parent and Carer Alliance Southwark Family Council and Parent to Parent Peer Advocacy