A SENIOR director at North Yorkshire County Council is supporting proposals for a national reset in children’s social care after contributing to a hard-hitting report which calls for a radical rethink of the system.
The national review, led by Josh MacAlister, looks at how the system responds to all children who are referred to it, from those receiving early help, to children in full-time care.
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It looks at fostering, residential care, kinship care from wider family members and the situation faced by care leavers.
The Department for Education said the review would be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle failures in the system.
Josh MacAlister’s report states there have been many attempts at reforming children’s social care since the 1989 Children Act.
Although each has brought about incremental progress, it has resulted in a mass of legislation, systems, structures and services.
The report goes on to say the entire system now needs stronger foundations, stating: “The time is now gone for half measures, quick fixes or grandstanding.
“Changing the easiest bits, papering over the cracks, or only making the right noises, may in fact make matters worse.
“How we care for our children is nothing short of a reflection of our values as a country.”
It is a sentiment reiterated by Stuart Carlton, the corporate director of children and young people’s services at North Yorkshire County Council.
He was part of the review’s design team who provided clarity with the issues which are currently facing the child social care system and helped build and propose alternatives.
He said: “The review looked for examples where alternative approaches to child social care issues were working, including in North Yorkshire.
“In many areas of child social care service, the county is already taking an alternative approach, leading the way in helping families find solutions.”
The report states its proposals are rooted in the belief that society’s first task is to care for children, and that the children’s social care system must get alongside and strengthen the families and communities children grow up in, which provide them with a source of “love and belonging”.
It goes on to say: “It means unlocking the potential of wider family networks to care for children.
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“When care is needed, it means providing loving relationships and homes that are healing.
“It means nurturing the foundations for a good life for the care experienced community – to be loved, excel in education, have a good home, have purposeful work and to be healthy.”
There are already many initiatives running in North Yorkshire that are already taking a fresh approach to child social care.
These include widening a family’s network around their child to keep them safe as soon as a family becomes involved with the children and families services and creating lifelong connections for children in care.