During the Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday (28 October 2015), David Cameron announced the initiation of an in-depth ‘root and branch’ review of children’s residential care in order to improve the current system and create opportunities for the young people residing within it.
It is hoped that the comprehensive review will help provide information regarding which children ought to be in residential care, how the care system in England can be improved, and, crucially, how the government can work to achieve the very best for every individual disadvantaged child currently in the midst of the country’s care system, regardless of their background. With over 8,000 children and young people residing in children’s homes at the present time, and local authorities spending in the region of £1 billion a year, it appears as though the review could not have come at a better time in terms of aiding and transforming the lives of vulnerable children in need.
Headed by Sir Martin Narey, former CEO of noted children’s charity Barnardo’s
, the review will investigate:
- 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 residential care homes are commissioned, delivered, regulated and inspected.
The Prime Minister said yesterday: ‘The most important thing we can do is to speed up the adoption system so that more children get adopted.
We need to make sure that our residential care homes are doing the best possible job they can.
That is why I can announce that I have asked … Sir Martin Narey to conduct an independent review of children’s residential care, reporting to the Education Secretary and myself, so we can take every possible step to make sure these children get the best start in life.’
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan MP was confident that the review will help young people in care to prevail and get the best start in life: ‘I am crystal clear that only the very best should be acceptable for children and young people in care. I want to shine a spotlight on what works … and end those practices that are holding these children back from a life full of opportunity.
It is our moral duty to create a care system where all children have access to high-quality care that meets their specific needs.’
Sir Martin, who was also formerly head of Prison and Probation Services in England and Wales and has previously advised the government on adoption reforms and children’s social care issues, was ‘delighted to accept the commission’, and praised the continuing effort of social care workers.
‘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.
‘I am anxious to hear from staff, children, care leavers and those with experience of this sector.’
A Downing Street spokesperson confirmed yesterday that the review would commence immediately. It is due to be reported fully in spring 2016; we will endeavour to keep readers up to date with any progressions made.