Children’s social care in England

Published On September 23, 2019 | By Children Screaming To Be Heard |

Full Report for download.

Care Stats England.

Children’s social work statistics 2017-2018 Scotland.

By Hannah Cromarty
Alexander Bellis
Rachael Harker
On 17 January 2019 there will be a Backbench Business debate on children’s
social care in England. This will take place in the main Commons Chamber.
This Commons Library debate pack provides an overview of the legal and policy
framework for children’s social care in England, and the key challenges facing
local authority children’s social care services.
It provides a selection of news articles and sector comment on the topic,
together with parliamentary material and links to independent research and
1. Children’s social care 2
1.1 The legal context 3
1.2 The policy context 5
2. Challenges facing
children’s social care 8
2.1 Demand for social care 9
2.2 Funding 14
2.3 Provision of social care
services 17
2.4 The social care
workforce 20
2.5 Outcomes for children in
need 21
3. Press and news
articles 23
4. Sector comment and
reports 26
5. Parliamentary
material 28
5.1 Debates 28
5.2 Parliamentary Questions
(PQs) 28
6. Further reading 31
The House of Commons Library prepares a briefing in hard copy and/or online for
most non-legislative debates in the Chamber and Westminster Hall other than
half-hour debates. Debate Packs are produced quickly after the announcement of
parliamentary business. They are intended to provide a summary or overview of
the issue being debated and identify relevant briefings and useful documents,
including press and parliamentary material. More detailed briefing can be
prepared for Members on request to the Library.
2 Number CDP-0284, 15 January 2019
1. Children’s social care
Children’s social care services are generally situated within or alongside
broader children’s services. The Department for Education (DfE) research
report Children’s services: spending and delivery (July 2016) provided
the following explanation of the types of children’s services that local
authorities provide:
Local councils describe their children’s services by using a four-tier
model, which may be represented as a pyramid or continuum of
Tier 1: Universal services such as schools, and health visiting.
Tier 2: Targeted services for children and families beginning to
experience, or at risk of, difficulties; for example school
counselling, parenting programmes, and support for teenage
Tier 3: Specialist services for children and families with multiple
needs such as intensive family support, and services for children
with disabilities.
Tier 4: Specialist services for children and families with severe and
complex needs, including child protection services, and looked
after children.1
Children’s social care services sit within tiers 3 and 4 of this framework:
Non statutory services: Tier 1 and tier 2 services for cases with
a lower level of need than children in need and looked after
Statutory services: Tier 3 and tier 4 services for children in
need, and looked after children, as established in the Children Act
Social care services may include:
• services for looked after children3
, including fostering and
residential care
• court liaison and advisory services
• adoption
• child protection
• family support
• services for children with disabilities
Local authorities work with other bodies such as the police, health and
education services, and private and voluntary care providers, to meet
their statutory duties.
The Department for Education (DfE) is responsible for the legal and
policy frameworks within which children’s social care services operate.
1 Department for Education, Children’s services: spending and delivery: Research
report by Aldaba and the Early Intervention Foundation, July 2016, p7 2 Ibid., p9 3 Under the Children Act 1989, a child is legally defined as ‘looked after’ by a local
authority if he or she is provided with accommodation for a continuous period for
more than 24 hours, or is subject to a care order.
Children’s social care in England 3
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)
provides funding to local authorities for children’s services.
1.1 The legal context
All decisions should be driven by the well-being of the child. This is one
of the core principles of the children’s social care system in England.
The way that agencies and organisations should work together to
safeguard and promote the welfare of children is set out in Department
for Education (DfE) statutory guidance: Working together to safeguard
children (last updated 1 August 2018).
The document summarises the legislative framework as follows:
Whilst it is parents and carers who have primary care for their
children, local authorities, working with partner organisations and
agencies, have specific duties to safeguard and promote the
welfare of all children in their area. The Children Acts of 1989 and
2004 set out specific duties: section 17 of the Children Act 1989
puts a duty on the local authority to provide services to children in
need in their area, regardless of where they are found; section 47
of the same Act requires local authorities to undertake enquiries if
they believe a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant
harm. The Director of Children’s Services and Lead Member for
Children’s Services in local authorities are the key points of
professional and political accountability, with responsibility for the
effective delivery of these functions
These duties placed on the local authority can only be discharged
with the full co-operation of other partners, many of whom have
individual duties when carrying out their functions under section
11 of the Children Act 2004 (see chapter 2). Under section 10 of
the same Act, the local authority is under a duty to make
arrangements to promote co-operation between itself and
organisations and agencies to improve the wellbeing of local
children (see chapter 1). This co-operation should exist and be
effective at all levels of an organisation, from strategic level
through to operational delivery.
The Children Act 2004, as amended by the Children and Social
Work Act 2017, strengthens this already important relationship by
placing new duties on key agencies in a local area. Specifically the
police, clinical commissioning groups and the local authority are
under a duty to make arrangements to work together, and with
other partners locally, to safeguard and promote the welfare of all
children in their area.
Everyone who comes into contact with children and families has a
role to play.
Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined for
the purposes of this guidance as:
• protecting children from maltreatment
• preventing impairment of children’s health or development
• ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent
with the provision of safe and effective care
4 Number CDP-0284, 15 January 2019
• taking action to enable all children to have the best
Children in Need
‘Child in Need’ is a broad definition spanning a wide range of children
and adolescents, in need of varying types of support and intervention. A
child is defined as ‘in need’ under section 17 of the Children Act 1989,
• they are unlikely to achieve or maintain, or to have the
opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of
health or development without the provision for them of services
by a local authority;
• their health or development is likely to be significantly impaired,
or further impaired, without the provision for them of such
services; or
• they are disabled.
Children in need make up a small minority of all children. At 31 March
2016, an estimated 3% of all children were in need of help and
protection, and around 6% of all children were in need at some point
throughout the year.
Children in need of help and protection are assessed and supported
through children’s social care services and include:
• children on Child in Need Plans
• children on Child Protection Plans
• looked after children
• young carers
• disabled children
The DfE figure below provides an overview of statutory thresholds for
children in need:
4 Department for Education, Working together to safeguard children, last updated 1
August 2018, pp6-7 5 Section 17(10) of Children Act 1989 6 Department for Education, Children in need of help and protection – data and
analysis, 16 March 2018, Section 2.1 p8 7 Ibid.
Children’s social care in England 5
The Commons Library briefing paper CBP-7730: Local authority support
for children in need (England) (October 2016) provides further
information on the assessment process and the services available to
children in need and their families in England.
1.2 The policy context
In 2010, the Department for Education (DfE) commissioned the Munro
Review of child protection, which recommended major reform of
children’s social work when it was published in May 2011. It proposed
15 recommendations designed to create “a better balance between
essential rules, principles, and professional expertise” and ensure that
children’s services could be more “child-centred” and less bureaucratic.8
In July 2016, the DfE published Putting children first, setting out its
vision for children’s social care by 2020.9 It built on a previous policy
paper: Children’s social care reform: a vision for change (January 2016).
The Government’s strategy involves reform in the three key areas:
• people and leadership – bringing the best into the
profession and giving them the right knowledge and skills
for the challenging but hugely rewarding work ahead, and
developing leaders equipped to nurture practice excellence
• practice and systems – creating the right environment for
excellent practice and innovation to flourish, learning from
the very best practice, and learning from when things go
8 E Munro, The Munro Review of Child Protection: Final Report – a child-centred
system, Cm 8062, Department for Education, May 2011 9 Department for Education, Putting children first: Delivering our vision for excellent
children’s social care, July 2016
6 Number CDP-0284, 15 January 2019
• governance and accountability – making sure that what
we are doing is working, and developing innovative new
organisational models with the potential to radically
improve services.10
The reform programme includes: developing the social work profession
through assessment and accreditation; supporting innovation;
establishing a new What Works Centre; and exploring new governance
and accountability arrangements. The DfE has published a ‘roadmap’ for
how it intends to transform children’s social care services, with a
timeframe for delivery of the reforms.11
The national assessment and accreditation system is intended to
introduce a new practice-focused methodology to establish the
knowledge and skills that child and family social workers need for
statutory child and family social work. The Government’s consultation
outcome – Confidence in practice: child and family social work
assessment and accreditation system (8 December 2017) – provides
further information on the proposed reforms.
The Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme was launched by
the DfE in 2014 to test innovative ways of supporting vulnerable
children and young people. The programme objectives are to:
• Improve life chances for children receiving help from the social
care system.
• Create stronger incentives and mechanisms for innovation,
experimentation and replication of successful new approaches.
• Drive better value for money across children’s social care.
The Programme has a budget of £200m for 2014-20. Information about
the individual projects, as well as insights gained from the Programme
as a whole, are available on the Innovation Programme Projects and
Insights webpage.
Alongside the Innovation programme, DfE is working with the best
leaders and practitioners in children’s social care through the Partners
in Practice programme. This programme aims to support wider
improvement across the children’s social care system through
understanding and sharing what works in improving outcomes for
vulnerable children and young people.
The DfE published a children’s social care statutory guidance myth
busting guide in August 2018 with the aim of clarifying what local
authorities are permitted to do within existing guidance and legislation.
The guide was designed to clarify the legal framework in order to
promote new ways of working that were thought to be prohibited.
However, the document drew criticism from campaigners, with an open
letter from 50 social work organisations and academics in September
2018 claiming it was in conflict with existing laws and guidance on
seven points, which could lead to local authorities breaking the law if
10 Department for Education, Putting children first: Delivering our vision for excellent
children’s social care, July 2016, p5 11 Letter from the Permanent Secretary of the DfE to the Chair of the Public Accounts
Committee, 18 September 2017
Children’s social care in England 7
they followed the guide.
12 Community Care magazine reported on 11
January 2019 that the charity Article 39 has threatened the DfE with
legal action if it does not withdraw the guide.13
The DfE has commissioned a What Works Centre for Children’s
Social Care to foster a culture of evidence-informed practice. The
Centre will be established as an independent organisation by 2020, but
will publish early research during its development. The What Works
Centre is being set up in close collaboration with the sector:
We are working in close consultation with leaders, practitioners,
children, young people, families and researchers across the sector
• Identify gaps in the evidence, and create new evidence
through trials and evaluations
• Collate, synthesise and review existing evidence
• Develop, test and publish tools and services that support
the greater use of evidence and inform the design of the
future Centre
• Champion the application of robust standards of evidence
in children’s social care research.14
The Government has established a National Stability Forum for
Children’s Social Care to provide leadership across the sector and drive
forward the Government’s vision for children’s social care.
The Government has also implemented a number of sector specific
reviews, notably on fostering. For further information see the DfE’s
response to the Education Select Committee’s Fostering report and the
independent Foster Care in England report: Fostering Better Outcomes
(July 2018).
The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has published
a detailed children’s services policy timeline from 2007 onwards that
illustrates the key events and changes that impact on safeguarding
children and young people in England.
12 ‘Minister defends children’s services ‘myth busting’ guide following criticism it could
cause harm’, Community Care, 12 September 2018 13 ‘DfE threatened with judicial review over children’s social care ‘myth-busting’
document’, Community Care, 11 January 2019 14 What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care website [Accessed 3 January 2019] 15 Department for Education, Fostering Better Outcomes: The Government response to
the Education Select Committee into fostering and Foster Care in England, CM9662,
July 2018, p43
8 Number CDP-0284, 15 January 2019
2. Challenges facing children’s
social care
In recent years a number of reports, from a range of stakeholders, have
highlighted ongoing concerns with children’s social care services. For
• Care Crisis Review – A sector-led seven month review of the rise in
applications for care orders and the number of children in care.
The final report – Care Crisis Review: Options for Change (June
2018) – provided an in-depth analysis of the current state of
children’s social care and set out 20 options for change. These
include “immediate steps that could be taken to move away from
an undue focus on processes and performance indicators, to one
where practitioners are able to stay focused on securing the right
outcomes for each child”.16
This report was debated in Parliament and the Commons Library
produced a corresponding summary for the debate.
• The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Children’s 2016-17
Inquiry into children’s social care services in England identified key
areas for improvement and made recommendations for change.
The APPG published a further report – Storing Up Trouble: a
postcode lottery of children’s social care – in July 2018.
• The Education Select Committee’s 2016-17 inquiry into fostering
called on the Government to conduct a review of the whole
children’s care system: “… We believe that the Government
should conduct a fundamental review of the whole care system to
address wider issues and ensuring that the care system is fulfilling
its purpose”.17
• A report by Action for Children and National Children’s Bureau –
Turning the Tide (November 2017) – analysed the funding
pressures on children and young people’s services.
• A position paper from the Association of Directors of Children’s
Services (ADCS) – A Country That Works For All Children (October
2017) explored the impact of different initiatives and policies on
children’s lives and outcomes, and “calls for a marshalling of
resources across the various government departments, a
reaffirmation of the value of preventative services and the
establishment of a cross-government review to understand better
the reasons for, and links between, rising levels of child poverty
and demand for children’s statutory services”.
16 Care Crisis Review, Care Crisis Review: Options for Change, June 2018, pp4-5 17 House of Commons Education Committee, Fostering: First Report of Session 2017–
19, HC340, 22 December 2017, p3
Children’s social care in England 9
• The Public Accounts Select Committee’s 2016–17 inquiry into
Child protection concluded that:
The Department seemed to us worryingly complacent that
nothing can be done to improve [Children’s] services more
quickly. The Department’s newly stated ambition to improve
services by 2020 is welcome but the Department lacks a credible
plan for how and by when it will make a difference and ensure
that local authorities are intervening effectively to make a
difference to these children’s lives…18
The Government response was published in March 2017.
• The National Audit Office published a critical report – Children in
need of help or protection – in October 2016 which made a
number of recommendations to improve children’s services. The
head of the National Audit Office, Amyas Morse, said:
Six years have passed since the Department recognised that
children’s services were not good enough. It is extremely
disappointing that, after all its efforts, far too many children’s
services are still not good enough. To achieve its new goal of
improving the quality of all services by 2020 the Department will
need to inject more energy, pace and determination in delivering
on its responsibilities.
The key issues raised by these reports include:
• Increasing demand for children’s social care;
• Funding pressures;
• Varying thresholds for social care;
• Poor and inadequate services in some areas;
• Workforce challenges – in particular, recruitment and retention of
social workers;
• Poor outcomes for children in need.
The following sections of the briefing paper provide an overview of
the key issues.
2.1 Demand for social care
The chart below shows the number of children in need since 2010. The
number was at its lowest in 2012 at 369,410 and is currently at its
highest – as at 31 March 2018 there were 404,710 children in need in
18 House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts, Child protection: Thirty-first
Report of Session 2016–17, HC 713, 16 December 2016, p3 19 National Audit Office webpage Children in need of help or protection [Accessed 3
January 2019]
10 Number CDP-0284, 15 January 2019
Source: DFE Children in Need Statistics
If a local authority identifies there is reasonable cause to suspect a child
is suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm, it will carry out an
assessment under section 47 of the Children Act 1989 to determine if it
needs to take steps to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child.
If concerns are substantiated and the child is judged to be at continuing
risk of harm then an initial child protection conference should be
convened within 15 working days.
The chart below shows that Section 47 enquiries and child protection
conferences have increased year on year since 2010. Between 2010 and
2018 the number of Section 47 enquiries increased by 122% from
89,300 in 2010 to 198,090 in 2018. Over the same period the number
of child protection conferences increased by 81% from 43,900 to
Source: DFE Children in Need Statistics
As at 31 March each year
375,870 382,410 369,410 378,030
395,480 390,130 393,910 389,040
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
England, year ending 31 March each year
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Section 47 enquiries
Child protection conferences
Children’s social care in England 11
At the initial child protection conference, the decision will be made as to
whether the child needs to become the subject of a child protection
plan. The number of children who became subject to a child protection
plan has also increased year on year since 2010. In the year ending 31
March 2018 a total of 53,790 children in England had a child protection
plan in place.
Source: DFE Children in Need Statistics
The number of children looked after has also in increased in recent
years. As at 31 March 2018 there were a total of 75,240 looked after
children in England, a +17% increase on the 2010 figure of 64,470. The
table below shows that the majority of looked after children are in
foster placements, followed by secure units and children’s homes.
Source: DFE Looked After Children Statistics
Why is demand increasing nationally?
A range of factors have been attributed as contributing to the increase
in demand for children’s social care services including:
England: 31 March each year
42,710 42,850 43,140
48,300 49,690 50,310 51,080
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
As at 31 March each year
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Number %
Foster placements 46,890 48,150 50,030 50,560 50,890 51,570 51,430 53,010 55,200 +8,310 +18%
Placed for adoption 2,530 2,710 2,900 3,620 3,940 3,580 3,150 2,710 2,230 -300 -12%
Placement with parents 4,210 3,990 3,600 3,310 3,280 3,570 3,900 4,440 4,700 +490 +12%
Other placement in the community 2,440 2,560 2,380 2,270 2,250 2,420 3,070 3,070 3,100 +660 +27%
Secure units, children’s homes 6,250 6,060 6,070 6,500 7,040 7,240 7,750 8,030 8,530 +2,280 +36%
Other residential settings 950 940 930 1,020 920 880 860 1,030 1,230 +280 +29%
Residential schools 1,000 920 930 590 400 150 140 140 130 -870 -87%
All children looked after 64,470 65,500 67,070 68,070 68,810 69,470 70,400 72,590 75,240 +10,770 +17%
Change 2010 to 2018
12 Number CDP-0284, 15 January 2019
• greater awareness and referrals in the wake of high profile cases
such as those involving sexual exploitation in Rotherham.
• increasing numbers of children who are vulnerable or at risk from
female genital mutilation, gang violence, child sexual exploitation,
radicalisation, and increasing numbers of unaccompanied children
seeking asylum.
• perceived increases in child poverty and cuts to early intervention
services, leading to more children being at risk from mental illness,
substance abuse and domestic violence.
• better identification, rather than an actual increase in the number
of children at risk.20
The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has collected
qualitative and quantitative data from local authorities in six phases
spanning 2007/8 to 2017/18 to evidence and better understand
changes in demand for, and provision of, children’s social care. Phase 6
of the research project – published in November 2018 – draws on survey
responses from 92% (140) of all local authorities in England and
existing data. The Phase 6 report concluded that the increase in demand
across all aspects of children’s social care arises from:
• Wider societal determinants linked to poverty
• New and greater risks to children and young people such as
County Lines and other contextual safeguarding risks
• An increased number of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children
• More care leavers as a result of the increase in the number of
children looked after and extended care leaver duties to age 25
• A growth in the overall child population
• Additional new duties from legislation and policy.21
The report notes that:
These wider societal determinants, such as poverty driven by the
cumulative impacts of welfare reform, insecure work and lack of
affordable housing, lead to an increased risk of strained, poorquality family relationship, which in turn increases the risk of
poor-quality parenting, parental mental ill-health and emotional
distress. The cumulative impacts of these factors affect children’s
wellbeing, which in turn affect their outcomes and life chances. If
these factors are not addressed, and taking into account the
projected continued growth in population, then we can expect
the number of children and families who require support to
continue to grow, unabated.
The ADCS’s policy paper – A Country That Works For All Children –
published in October 2017, outlined concerns about the impacts of
austerity measures on children’s social care services:
Local authorities are ambitious about improving children’s life
chances but a series of conflicting national policy initiatives –
particularly in relation to welfare reform – coupled with dramatic
20 All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC), No Good Options: Report of the
Inquiry into Children’s Social Care in England, 17 March 2017, p9 21 ADCS, ADCS Safeguarding Pressures Research Phase 6, November 2018, p119 22 Ibid., p120
Children’s social care in England 13
reductions in public sector funding, are increasingly affecting our
ability to improve outcomes.
Whilst councils across the country have safeguarded spending on
child protection services to protect the most vulnerable, the
unintended consequence of the government’s austerity
programme has been to drive up demand for these services as
more and more families find themselves at the point of crisis. The
Child Poverty Action Group suggests the annual cost of tackling
child poverty in the U.K. is £29 billion, this sum dwarfs the
estimated £2 billion funding gap in children’s services (LGA,
ADCS members are concerned that our ability to address the
growing pressures in the child protection system and wider
children’s services, including schools, via the provision of early
help and support to families is being eroded by austerity. The
Children Acts of 1989 and 2004 aimed to improve services for
children by promoting early help and multi-agency working to
bring about positive outcomes for children, young people and
their families but these preventative duties have never been
sufficiently funded. We are not, nor should we be, a blue light
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Children 2016-17
Inquiry into children’s social care services in England also highlighted the
impact of funding pressures on the number of children being taken into
Inevitably, the available resource is being spent disproportionately
on children most at risk of harm. Unfortunately, the Inquiry heard
that across the country, there is insufficient resource for universal
services, early help for families, and even statutory support for
children classified as “in need”. Strikingly, in a survey conducted
for the Inquiry, 89 per cent of directors of children’s social services
reported finding it increasingly challenging to fulfil their statutory
duties under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989.24
The Inquiry heard repeatedly that increasing resource is being
directed towards children who have already suffered abuse or
neglect, or those at high risk of harm. Correspondingly, fewer
resources are allocated for early intervention and prevention,
including support for families. The result is a shift towards late
intervention, where needs have often escalated significantly
before any support is put in place. This often results in more
children being taken into care, and ultimately in poorer outcomes
for children and families.25
In preparation for the forthcoming Spending Review, the Government
is working with the sector to “develop a sharper and more
granular picture of demand for children’s services”.
23 Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), A Country That Works For All
Children, 11 October 2017, p1 24 All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC), No Good Options: Report of the
Inquiry into Children’s Social Care in England, 17 March 2017, p2 25 All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC), No Good Options: Report of the
Inquiry into Children’s Social Care in England, 17 March 2017, p3 26 WPQ 202747 20 December 2018
14 Number CDP-0284, 15 January 2019
The National Audit Office is conducting an enquiry into Managing
demand for children’s services. This is due to report in early 2019.
2.2 Funding
Children’s services are funded via the local government finance
settlement; the funding is not ring-fenced. Ahead of confirming
allocations at the 2019 Spending Review, the Autumn Budget 2018
• an additional £410 million in 2019/20 for adults and children’s
social care; and
• £84 million over 5 years from April 2019 to support up to 20 local
authorities to improve their social work practice and decisionmaking.
Funding trends
In 2014/15 expenditure on ‘services to young people’ was reclassified to
Children and Families Social Care services expenditure. As a result,
expenditure on children and families social care cannot be tracked back
to 2010/11 on a consistent basis. The table below shows two separate
time series, but both suggest that expenditure on children’s social care
has been protected, during a period in which Government funding for
local authorities has fallen in real terms.28
MHLG: Local authority revenue expenditure and financing data
HMT: GDP Deflator October 2018
Research by Aldaba and the Early Intervention Foundation for the DfE
analysed the spend per head on children’s services between 2010/11
and 2015/16, and identified wide variation in spend per head between
local authorities for both children in need and looked after children.
Variations in spend per head may be a result of a number of factors, for
27 WPQ PQ 200076 13 Dec 2018 28 National Audit Office, Financial sustainability of local authorities 2018, 8 March
2018 29 DfE, Children’s services spending update November 2017, November 2017, para 31
England £ billions
Real Terms
(2017/18 Prices)
Real terms
Annual % change
2010/11 6.65 7.45
2011/12 6.42 7.10 -4.7%
2012/13 6.61 7.16 +0.9%
2013/14 6.92 7.35 +2.7%
2014/15 8.09 8.49
2015/16 8.30 8.65 +1.8%
2016/17 8.48 8.64 -0.1%
2017/18 8.84 8.84 +2.4%
Children’s social care in England 15
example: sudden changes in the number of children supported through
the services; efficiencies; and the number of the most expensive types of
placements, such as residential care. The National Audit Office reported
in 2016 that “Neither the DfE nor authorities understand why spending
Preventative services
As children’s social care services are primarily statutory responsibilities,
funding pressures in this area tends to lead to use of reserves or
spending reductions in other service areas, rather than a reduction in
There is a concern that funding for non-statutory children’s services, in
particular for early and preventative interventions such as Sure Start and
young people’s services, has been significantly reduced in many areas.
The Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, raised concerns about
the impacts of cuts to preventative services in a 2018 report on public
spending on children:
The work shows, therefore, that spend on children has in fact
been overall broadly resilient over the last 20 years, even taking
into account the effects of the 2008 recession. Within that overall
figure, however, are some worrying trends. Mainstream and acute
services such as age 4-16 education and provision for children in
care have been protected at the expense of targeted preventative
services, removing vital safety nets for some very vulnerable
children. The 60% cut in Sure Start and youth services will see an
increasing number of vulnerable children fall through the gaps.
England now spends nearly half of its entire children’s services
budget on 73,000 children in the care system – leaving the other
half for the remaining 11.7 million kids.
Children do not arrive in extreme need overnight and many could
be prevented from getting to that point if we helped them sooner
in a more effective way. We are, in effect, attempting to manage
and contain crisis in children’s lives after allowing it to escalate.
The economic and social costs are unsustainable. The cost to the
state will ultimately be greater, but it is the lifetime cost to these
children which we should be most troubled by. They only have
one childhood, one chance to grow up. Already we see the costs
of helping children later in life, or of allowing greater numbers to
become marginalised – in the current pressures on family courts,
special schools and the care system; in spiralling numbers of
school exclusions and the consequent increase in younger and
younger children linked to violent street gangs.32
The charity Action for Children has published two research reports that
raise concerns that opportunities to intervene early are being missed,
and “Some children are stuck in a revolving door into social care, in a
30 National Audit Office, Children in need of help or protection, 12 October 2016,
Summary 31 National Audit Office, Financial sustainability of local authorities 2018, 8 March
2018, para. 2.30 32 Children’s Commissioner for England, Public Spending on Children in England: 2000
to 2020, Institute for Fiscal Studies – Elaine Kelly, Tom Lee, Luke Sibieta and Tom
Waters, June 2018, pp2-3
16 Number CDP-0284, 15 January 2019
cycle of referral and assessment, but only receiving help at crisis
In a parliamentary debate on the Care Crisis Review on 5 September
2018, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim
Zahawi, outlined Government action on early intervention and rejected
calls to ring-fence funding for preventative services:
My hon. Friend the Member for Telford has an interest in early
intervention. I assure her that, across Government, we are
addressing the root causes of children’s needs early – be it by
supporting children with alcohol-dependent parents or in families
affected by domestic abuse, preventing young people from being
drawn into serious violence, or investing in early years and
children’s and young people’s mental health. Our “Working
Together to Safeguard Children” statutory guidance is clear that
local areas should have a comprehensive range of effective
evidence-based services in place to address assessed needs early.
The Government have also committed £920 million to the
troubled families programme, which aims to achieve significant
and sustained improvement for up to 400,000 families with
multiple high-cost problems by 2020.
On the point that my hon. Friend on funding for preventive
support services, it is for local authorities to determine how to
spend their non-ring-fenced income on the services they provide,
including services for preventive support measures.34
Funding sustainability
Commentators are also concerned that the current levels of funding are
not sustainable. The Local Government Association’s (LGA) Budget
Submission Autumn 2017 asserted that “Children’s social care in
particular is becoming the biggest area of financial challenge for
social care authorities”.35 The LGA’s Budget Submission Autumn
2018 estimated that children’s services will face a £1.1 billion funding
gap in 2019/20 and a £3 billion funding gap by 2024/25:
The LGA’s Bright Futures campaign has warned for some time
that the current situation facing children’s services is
unsustainable. Children’s services are being pushed to the brink
by growing demand for support and face a funding gap of over
£1.1 billion in 2019/20 just to maintain current service levels.
Last year saw the biggest annual increase in children in care since
2010, and councils are now starting more than 500 child
protection investigations every day, on average. Councils spent
£8.8 billion on children’s social care in 2017/18, an increase of 4.3
per cent (nearly £370 million) on the previous year. This is a higher
increase proportionally than any other area of council spending.
Looked-after children is the single biggest pressure on children’s
social care, and accounts for 47 per cent (£4 billion) of overall
spending on children’s services.
Vital care and support for vulnerable children is fast approaching a
tipping point, after latest figures showed councils overspent by
33 Action for Children, Revolving Door Part 1 (2017) and Revolving Door Part 2 (2018) 34 HC Deb 5 September 2018 c154W 35 Local Government Association, LGA Budget Submission Autumn 2017, November
2017, p4
Children’s social care in England 17
more than £800 million (10 per cent) on children’s social care in
the last year.
This shows councils across the country are working incredibly hard
to protect services for the most vulnerable in our communities
despite significant and ongoing government funding cuts, and
they continue to provide essential help and support for thousands
of children and families every day. The reality is that councils
cannot keep providing this standard of support without being
forced to take difficult decisions and cut back on early
intervention services which help to prevent children entering the
care system in the first place.
The Government urgently needs to:
• Commit to fully funding the £1.1 billion funding gap
in children’s services in 2019/20 so that councils can
manage the rising demand for help, while also
providing the additional resources they need to support
families before problems escalate to the point where a child
might need to come into care.36
2.3 Provision of social care services
Formal assessment of local authority delivery of children’s social care is
the responsibility of the independent inspectorate, Ofsted. Information
about How Ofsted inspects children’s social care is available on the
Ofsted website.
Up until the end of 2017 inspections were carried out under the single
inspection framework (SIF). The SIF has an overall effectiveness
judgement. There are three key judgements: help and protection,
children looked after, and leadership and management. The SIF also has
two sub judgements: adoption and care leavers. From 2018, Ofsted has
used a new framework for the inspection of local authority children’s
services (ILACS) which is intended to support the earlier identification of
risk and success.37 The ILACS system comprises the following:
• standard inspections (usually for local authorities judged requires
improvement to be good)
• short inspections (for local authorities judged good or
• focused visits
• monitoring visits
• activity outside inspection.
The Ofsted Annual Report 2017/18: education, children’s services and
skills reports that “Nationally, the overall effectiveness of local
authorities’ children’s services continues to improve. When looking at
the latest national picture compared with the picture after each local
authority’s first SIF inspection, the proportion judged good or
36 Local Government Association, LGA Autumn Budget Submission to HM Treasury,
September 2018, pp11-12 37 For further information see: ‘A new inspection system’, Ofsted blog, 9 November
18 Number CDP-0284, 15 January 2019
outstanding has improved from 36% to 42%. There has been a
decrease in the proportion judged inadequate, from 22% to 13%”:
However, the report notes that whilst children’s services are improving
overall, this is not the case everywhere:
Some Las that fail in a relatively small number of judgement areas
have the capacity, with the right level of support and challenge, to
turn things around relatively quickly. Then there are those LAs
that require longer and more significant intervention, but still
achieve impressive improvement. Finally, there are those LAs in
which the weaknesses are so great and the infrastructure
insufficient that the inadequacy is far more entrenched. These are
the LAs that take the longest time to improve and help fuel the
public perception of poor performing LAs.39
Ofsted monitors inadequate local authorities and then re-inspects them.
Two thirds of inadequate local authorities improved at their reinspection. Seven authorities were judged to still be inadequate at their
re-inspection. Common features of local authorities that struggle to
improve from inadequate are:
• a failure to address longstanding weakness and their general pace
of improvement.
• insufficient staff and managers, including failures to recruit and
retain them and the resultant high caseloads.
• the quality of social work practice, including failures to identify
risk and delay in both protecting and achieving permanent
alternatives for children.
• a lack of purposeful management oversight of practice.40
Social care providers in England have also continued to improve over the
years. In 2017/18 84% of the almost 3,000 social care providers were
judged good or outstanding by Ofsted. 14% require improvement to be
good and 2% were inadequate. Ofsted continues to be concerned
about the performance of secure training centres, none of which were
judged to be good or outstanding.
38 Ofsted, Ofsted Annual Report 2017/18: education, children’s services and skills, 4
December 2018, para 223 39 Ibid., para 225 40 Ibid., para 230 41 Ibid., p93
Children’s social care in England 19
In a parliamentary debate on Children’s Services on 12 December 2017
the Minister for Children and Families outlined Government action to
improve the standard of children’s social care:
We have strengthened our approach to intervention in cases
where councils are failing to provide adequate services for
children in need of help and protection, looked-after children or
care leavers. That programme of intervention is yielding real
results. Some 36 local authorities have been lifted out of failure
since 2010 and we are seeing a positive impact from the
independent children’s social care trusts that we have set up in
Doncaster and Slough. We also have great examples of local
authorities, such as Leicester City and West Berkshire, that have
turned their services around at an impressive pace, underlining
what can be achieved with a relentless focus on improvement
along with the right help and support. I am of course pleased with
such results, but I am not complacent—we will continue to act
swiftly in cases of failure and to act decisively to ensure
improvement is happening everywhere in the system.
We have identified £20 million to be invested in improvement
support to help create a system of sector-led improvement,
founded on systematic and effective self-assessment and peer
challenge. We have enjoyed real success in working with sector
partners on that. Together, we are testing a system of regional
improvement alliances that will, in time, spread to the whole
country and enable a robust system of support and challenge
between local authorities, supported by key partners such as
Ofsted and my Department.
We are expanding our partners in practice programme. Our PiPs,
as they are familiarly referred to, are excellent local authorities
whose children’s services are secure and whose leadership is
strong. For a few years now, the partners have been pioneering
excellent practice and working systematically to spread it across
the system. They are a model of good practice, not seen from a
distance but working hand-in-hand alongside teams in other
authorities that want to learn and improve their own practice…
Variations in service provision
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Children’s 2017 inquiry
into children’s social care drew attention to the issue of variations in
service provision and outcomes for children:
Alongside evidence of the funding challenge facing local
authorities, the Inquiry heard evidence of substantial variations in
local policies and in outcomes for children. Perhaps most
strikingly, the proportion of children in local authority care ranges
from just 22 per 10,000 to 164 per 10,000. Moreover, this and
similar variations are only partially explained by differences in
The APPG’s follow-up report – Storing Up Trouble: a postcode lottery of
children’s social care (July 2018) – found evidence that children with
similar needs, and those facing similar risks, were receiving different
levels of intervention and support depending on where they live:
42 HC Deb 12 December 2017 c116WH 43 All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC), No Good Options: Report of the
Inquiry into Children’s Social Care in England, 17 March 2017, p2
20 Number CDP-0284, 15 January 2019
The level of need a child has to reach in order to access support
was found to vary across the country. Inconsistency appears to be
particularly stark in relation to the provision of early help and
wider preventative services.
More than 80 per cent of Directors of Children’s Services,
surveyed as part of the Inquiry, said that there were variations in
thresholds for accessing early help. Almost three quarters reported
variable thresholds for ‘children in need’ support, and almost two
thirds said there was variation in thresholds for making a child
subject to a child protection plan.
Analysis of Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) ‘threshold
documents’ found some significant disparities in how local areas
were addressing need, particularly in response to children who are
self harming, families with housing problems and even children
experiencing physical abuse. These findings suggest that children
with similar needs, and those facing similar risks, are receiving
different levels of intervention and support depending on where
they live.44
The APPG recommended urged the Department for Education to
urgently respond to the “emerging evidence about variation in
thresholds and their application across children’s social care
departments, and the implications for children and families”.45
The National Audit Office 2016 study – Children in need of help or
protection – found that in the year ending 31 March 2015 there were
very wide variations between local authorities in the rates of referrals
accepted, re-referrals, children in need and repeat child protection
2.4 The social care workforce
There is evidence that local authorities face difficulties in recruiting and
retaining qualified social workers, with a consequent reliance on agency
staff. The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS)
summarises the current position as follows:
DfE reports that there were 28,500 children and family social
workers (excluding agency workers) at 30 September 2017, an
increase of around 3% on the previous year. Of these, 51% were
case-holders at the time of the data collection. 5,340 agency
workers were also working as children and family social workers
at 30 September 2017 which is similar to the number at 30
September 2016 (5,330).
Changes over the past three years and differences between
authorities are apparent. Social worker vacancies had increased
from 15% in September 2014 to 17% in September 2017,
ranging from 1% to 53% between authorities. Agency staff rates
have remained fairly stable at 16%, but individual authorities
report rates ranging from 1% to 49%. It is important to note that
this national DfE data collection and data presented here is a
44 The APPG for Children, Storing Up Trouble: a postcode lottery of children’s social
care, July 2018, p4 45 The APPG for Children, Storing Up Trouble: a postcode lottery of children’s social
care, July 2018, p4 46 National Audit Office, Children in need of help or protection, 12 October 2016,
Children’s social care in England 21
snapshot only, on 30th September, and does not reflect a local
authority position at other times of the year.
The turnover rate – the annual number of children’s social workers who
leave as a percentage of the total number of children’s social workers –
has been consistently high, reaching 17% in 2014/15, although this has
since improved slightly, and declined to 14% in 2017/18.48 The average
time spent in the profession is less than eight years, compared with 16
for a nurse and 25 for a doctor.49
2.5 Outcomes for children in need
It is widely acknowledged both that the majority of looked after children
experience more positive outcomes than they would have if there were
not taken into care and that children in care often experience better
outcomes than those in the wider group of “children in need”.
However, children in care and those leaving care face a variety of lower
outcomes compared to their peers:
Understanding the routes to and causes of these outcomes is
challenging. In particular, it is an area of contention as to whether these
outcomes are a necessary result of the circumstances that children in
the care system have experienced, or whether the care system could
and should do more to alleviate and mitigate these impacts. A recent
report by the Social Market Foundation – Looked-after Children: The
Silent Crisis (August 2018) provides further analysis of this issue and
recommends a range of actions to ensure improvement.
In March 2018 the Government launched a Review of support for
children in need and called for evidence to help understand what
makes a difference to the educational outcomes of children in need,
and what works in practice to improve those outcomes.
As part of the review the DfE has released new data and analysis on
children in need including:
• the characteristics of children in need
• the overlaps with other areas of disadvantage such as special
educational needs
• their experiences through children’s social care and school
47 ADCS, ADCS Safeguarding Pressures Research Phase 6, November 2018, p88 48 Institute for Government, Performance tracker 2018: children’s social care, 49 Department for Education, Education Select Committee Memorandum: Social work
reform, undated (Accessed 3 January 2010), para 38 50 Social Market Foundation, Looked-after Children: The Silent Crisis by Matthew
Oakley, Guy Miscampbell, Raphael Gregorian, August 2018
22 Number CDP-0284, 15 January 2019
• their outcomes from the early years, through education and into
The analysis concluded that “The data shows that while children in need
overall have poorer educational outcomes than other children, there is
variation in the progress that children make across local areas. Despite
children in need being less likely to achieve than their peers overall,
some children are able to succeed despite the challenges they face”.
The Department has also published Children in need of help and
protection: preliminary longitudinal analysis (December 2018) which
explores the impact of social care journeys on educational outcomes.
DfE collects and annually publishes information on the educational
attainment of looked-after children and outcomes for care leavers aged
19, 20 and 21 years old and uses this information to inform policies.
51 DfE, Review of Children in Need, 16 March 2018
Children’s social care in England 23
3. Press and news articles
Social care funding and demand for services
Rise in children taken into care pushes 88% of councils over budget,
Guardian, 8 January 2019
Labour blames cuts as number of children in care rises again, Guardian,
15 November 2018
Child protection services near crisis as demand rises, BBC News, 6
November 2018
Councils plan £900m of cuts including children’s services and early
years, Children and Young People Now, 20 September 2018
Revealed: cash crisis pushing child services to tipping point, Observer, 1
September 2018
Vulnerable children facing ‘catastrophe’ over crisis-hit councils, BBC
News, 4 August 2018
Children’s services spending to increase by £542m, Children and Young
People Now, 29 June 2018
Care for our children is in crisis. We must give their families more help,
Guardian, 21 June 2018
Spending on children and young people’s services cut by nearly £1bn in
six years, figures reveal, Guardian, 3 April 2018
Children’s services ‘biggest pressure for councils’, Children and Young
People Now, 8 February 2018
Early intervention and thresholds for assistance
Ofsted director warns of ‘enduring harm’ due to early help cuts, Local
Government Chronicle, 5 December 2018
Children’s services: why spending now will pay off in the future,
Guardian, 15 November 2018
Children in crisis as social care struggles, Times, 11 July 2018
A problem-solving court protects our most vulnerable children. It must
be supported, Times, 28 June 2018
Why are more social work assessments leading to no further action?
Community Care, 26 April 2018
1,000 Sure Start children’s centres may have shut since 2010, Guardian,
5 April 2018
Five essential steps to support the next generation of children in care,
Guardian, 12 October 2017
Social workers ‘face pressure’ to use section 20 arrangements, report
finds, Community Care, 13 July 2017
Children’s policy ‘tipped too far’ towards removing children at point of
crisis, says BASW, Community Care, 15 May 2017
24 Number CDP-0284, 15 January 2019
Regional variations
Why does Northern Ireland have fewer children in care? Guardian, 19
September 2018
Almost all cuts to social care in England are in the poorest areas,
Guardian, 12 September 2018
Country matters: inequalities in children’s social care, Community Care,
11 September 2018
Children in north of England 70% more likely to face care process,
study shows, Guardian, 3 July 2017
Quality of care
DfE threatened with judicial review over children’s social care ‘mythbusting’ document, Community Care, 11 January 2019
Social workers relying too much on experience rather than research to
make decisions, Community Care, 18 December 2018
Neglected older children going ‘unseen’ as authorities fail to recognise
abuse and trauma, finds report, Independent, 6 July 2018
Thousands of children in care are moved around like ‘pinballs’, Times, 1
June 2018
‘Challenging but fair’: the new inspection regime for children’s services,
Guardian, 29 March 2018
Manageable caseloads and supported social workers: how to move on
from ‘inadequate’, Community Care, 23 March 2017
Councils struggling to find secure placements for children at risk,
Community Care, 10 April 2017
Alternative providers and strategies
Ray Jones: ‘If councils lose accountability for children’s services then
families will lose the help they need’, Community Care, 12 December
Private firms are making big money out of children’s social services,
Guardian, 5 December 2018
Barnardo’s bid to save children’s services, Times, 23 September 2018
Cash-strapped councils turn to algorithms to spot children at risk, Times,
17 September 2018
Can new partnership keep vulnerable children out of care? Guardian, 2
February 2018
Funding announced to train 900 new children’s social workers, DfE, 8
January 2019
Majority of social workers looking to leave their job within the next 16
months, says new research, Community Care, 30 October 2018
Children’s social care in England 25
Cuts causing stress and long-term sickness, social workers tell survey,
Community Care, 4 October 2018
Five years of Frontline: the impact, the debate and the future of fasttrack social work training, Community Care, 3 October 2018
What the looked-after children statistics don’t tell us, Community Care,
3 October 2017
Baby P death 10 years on: the case’s lasting impact on child protection,
Children and Young People Now, 26 July 2017
Ministers ‘in the dark’ over scale of child vulnerability, BBC News, 4 July
Dear ministers, here is how you fix children’s social work, Community
Care, 15 June 2017
Britain’s child social care system is quietly being dismantled, Guardian, 6
April 2017
26 Number CDP-0284, 15 January 2019
4. Sector comment and reports
The Association of Directors of Children’s Services frequently publishes
press releases, blogs, consultation submissions and reports on children’s
social care. For instance, you can read their contributions on the subject
of care, adoption, fostering, residential care, and family justice.
The ADCS has also published a series of research reports on
‘Safeguarding Pressures’ (2010-2018).
The Children’s Society has a published many relevant reports which can
be found on their publications website. Major publications include:
• Crumbling Futures: Why vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds need
more support as they move into adulthood, March 2018
• Good Childhood Report 2017
The Children’s Commissioner has published a number of relevant
reports, including:
• Vulnerability report, Children’s Commissioner, July 2018
• Elaine Kelly, Tom Lee, Luke Sibieta and Tom Waters, Public
Spending on Children in England: 2000 to 2020, Children’s
Commissioner and the IFS, June 2018
• Stability index, Children’s Commissioner, June 2018
• Who Cares? Children’s Commissioner report on public
expectations for the care of vulnerable children, Children’s
Commissioner and Ipsos Mori, May 2018. (A question was posed
in the Lords regarding this report. In response, Baroness Walmsley
deposited a paper in the Libraries of both Houses, outlining the
Government’s position on its findings).
Making Sense: Understanding the drivers of variation in spend on
children’s services, Local Government Association and Newton Europe,
June 2018
Vulnerable children and social care in England: a review of the evidence,
Education Policy Institute, April 2018
Perceptions of Care, Become, June 2017
Caroline Lynch and Professor Janet Boddy, Cooperation or coercion?
Children coming into the care system under voluntary arrangements,
Family Rights Group, 2017
Service funding and expenditure
England’s largest councils set to outline another raft of savings this
winter, with £1bn in new reductions needed to balance budgets,
County Council Network, 20 September 2018
Children in need – defining the problem, National Children’s Bureau, 6
June 2018
Making Sense – Understanding the drivers of variation in spend on
children’s services, LGA and Newton, 2018
Children’s social care in England 27
Councillors warn that rising demand and a lack of resources are leaving
children’s needs unmet, National Children’s Bureau, 30 October 2017
Children’s social care at breaking point, council leaders warn, LGA, 9
August 2017
Close the children’s services funding gap, a campaign by the LGA,
Barnardo’s, Action for Children, The Children’s Society, and the National
Children’s Bureau
Service provision
Matthew Oakley, Guy Miscampbell, Raphael Gregorian, Looked-after
Children: The Silent Crisis, Social Market Foundation, August 2018
• The SMF have also brought together data from Ofsted to show
how local authorities across the country are performing. Some of
this data is presented in an interactive dashboard.
Growing up neglected: a multi-agency response to older children,
Ofsted, Care Quality Commission, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation
Service, and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue
Services, 6 July 2018. This report is “part of the programme of joint
targeted area inspections which examine how well agencies are working
together in local areas to help and protect children.
Changes in quality of health and social care services for disabled
children and their families, Disabled Children’s Partnership, June 2018
Revolving door part 2: Are we failing children at risk of abuse and
neglect? Action for Children, 2018
Children must fall deeper into crisis before getting help, suggests survey
of social workers, National Children’s Bureau, 11 September 2017
Revolving door part 1: Are vulnerable children being overlooked? Action
for Children, 2017
The Howard League has published a number of reports on ending the
criminalisation of children in residential care.
In Care, Out of Trouble, Prison Reform Trust, 2016
• The results of a review “established to examine the reasons for,
and how best to tackle, the over representation of children in
care, or with experience of care, in the criminal justice system in
England and Wales”. Impact reports have subsequently published
to show how its recommendations have been taken forward.
Care homes
ICHA “State of the Market” survey, Independent Children Homes
Association, 4 February 2018
28 Number CDP-0284, 15 January 2019
5. Parliamentary material
The House of Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government
Select Committee has opened an inquiry into the Funding and provision
of local authorities’ children’s services. It has yet to publish evidence.
5.1 Debates
Children in Need: Adulthood, Westminster Hall debate, HC deb 6
September 2018, volume 646, cc182-204WH
Care Crisis Review, Westminster Hall debate, 05 Sep 2018, volume 646,
Foster Care, Westminster Hall debate, HC deb 14 Mar 2018, volume
637, cc327-350WH
Social Workers, Westminster Hall debate, 13 Mar 2018, volume 637,
Vulnerable Children, HL deb 14 Dec 2017, volume 787, cc1674-1708
Children’s Services, Westminster Hall debate, HC deb 12 December
2017, volume 633, cc.112-8 WH
5.2 Parliamentary Questions (PQs)
Funding and demand
Children: Social Services, PQ 204479, 9 January 2019
• A question about expenditure on children’s services from 2010
Children: Social Services, PQ 203969, 7 January 2019
• A question about any departmental assessments of trends in the
level of demand for children’s services.
Social Services: Children, PQ 202747, 20 Dec 2018
• A question about the link between deprivation and demand for
children’s services.
Social Services: Children, PQ 202778, 20 Dec 2018
• A question about the timetable for the distribution of the £84
million in additional funding for children’s social care services
announced in the 2018 Budget.
Social Services: Children, PQ 200076, 13 Dec 2018
• A question about the overspend on children’s services in 2017-18
and additional forthcoming investment.
Social Services: Children, PQ 199766, 13 Dec 2018
• A question about the adequacy of funding received by local
government for the delivery of children’s services.
Children: Social Services, PQ 187043, 09 Nov 2018
Children’s social care in England 29
• A question about how the £84 million announced in the Autumn
Budget 2018 will be allocated to local authorities.
Social Services: Children, PQ HL9563, 25 Jul 2018
• Lord Ouseley asking the Government “what measures they plan
to put in place to prevent vulnerable children being taken into
local authority care for their own safety due to underfunded local
safeguarding services.”
Children: Social Services, PQ 141026, 14 May 2018
• A question about public spending under section 17 of the
Children’s Act 1989.
Alternative models and practices
Social Services: Children, PQ 169385, 11 Sep 2018
• A question about whether funding will be given to support the
spread of successful practice discovered in the Children’s Social
Care Innovation programme.
Children: Social Services, PQ 165602, 23 Jul 2018
• Emma Lewell-Buck MP asking the Secretary of State “what
assessment he has made of the long-term value of innovation
projects in respect of local authority children’s services
Children: Social Services, PQ 165601, 23 Jul 2018
• A question about the Partners in Practice programme’s support
for the setting up of Trust models or Community Interest
Social Services: Children, PQ HL3672, 12 Dec 2017
• A question about the effectiveness of social care trusts in
improving children’s services.
Quality of services
Social Services: Children, PQ 198190, 11 Dec 2018
• A question about Government support for local leaders to help
them deliver high-quality children’s services.
Disability: Children, PQ 194150, 28 Nov 2018
• A question about Government efforts to improve health and
social care for disabled children.
Children: Social Services, PQ 188260, 13 Nov 2018
• A question regarding whether there should be a national
outcomes framework to benchmark children’s services.
Children: Social Services, PQ163787, 23 Jul 2018
• A question about how the Government incentivises local
authorities to provide earlier inventions.
30 Number CDP-0284, 15 January 2019
Social Services: Children, PQ 144403, 23 May 2018
• A question about the Government’s response to Crumbling
Futures (2018), published by the Children’s Society.
Children: Social Services, PQ 122883, 19 Jan 2018
• A question about the Government response to inspection findings
for local children’s services.
Children: Social Services, PQ 113552, 24 Nov 2017
• A question regarding the funding of training for youth workers
and social service practitioners in the last five years.
Data and statistics
Children: Social Services, PQ 164480, 24 Jul 2018
• A question about the number of children referred more than once
to social services in the same reporting year in the Lewisham area.
Letter dated 25/05/2018 from Matthew Coffee, Chief Operating Officer
to Emma Lewell-Buck MP regarding notification and data held on the
death of children in children’s homes from 2008-09 to 2017-18,
deposited paper DEP2018-0514
• Related to PQs:
─ Children: Care Homes, PQ 141809, 11 May 2018
─ Children: Care Homes, PQ 141808, 11 May 2018
─ Children: Care Homes, PQ 141807, 11 May 2018
Foster Care, PQ158701, 04 Jul 2018
• A question about the number and proportion of young people in
foster care.
Foster Care, HL8298, 18 Jun 2018
• A question about the “estimated shortfall” in foster carers in
England and measures being taken to tackle this issue.
Children’s social care in England 31
6. Further reading
A selection of further reading is set out below.
Library publications
Support for care leavers, Commons Library briefing paper, 29 October
Supporting children in need into adulthood, Commons Library debate
pack, 5 September 2018
Findings of the Care Crisis Review, Commons Library debate pack, 4
September 2018
The Troubled Families programme, Commons Library briefing paper, 18
July 2018
Social Work Regulation (England), Commons Library briefing paper, 22
June 2018
Foster care, Commons Library debate pack, 13 March 2018
Vulnerable Children: Work of the Children’s Commissioner, Lords
Library, 8 December 2017
Early Intervention, Commons Library briefing paper, 26 June 2017
Local authority support for children in need (England), Commons
Library briefing paper, 10 October 2016
Parliamentary publications
Storing Up Trouble: a postcode lottery of children’s social care, APPG for
Children/NCB, July 2018
No Good Options: Report of the Inquiry into Children’s Social Care in
England, APPG for Children/NCB, March 2017
Social Work Reform inquiry, Education Select Committee (2016-17)
Fostering, Education Select Committee (2016-17)
Mental health and wellbeing of looked after children inquiry, Education
Select Committee (2015-16)
Government publications Parenting, childcare and children’s services – Research and
Working together to safeguard children, DfE, updated August 2018
Children’s services omnibus, DfE, 17 May 2018
Corporate parenting, the local offer and personal adviser support, DfE,
updated 26 February 2018
Outcomes for children looked after by LAs: 31 March 2017, DfE
32 Number CDP-0284, 15 January 2019
Children looked after in England including adoption: 2016 to 2017, DfE,
last updated December 2017
Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme: final evaluation report,
DfE, November 2017
Children’s services in England: repeat referrals, DfE, 20 July 2017
Special guardianship guidance, DfE, updated 26 January 2017
Children’s residential care in England, DfE, 2016
Academic/think tank research
Performance tracker 2018: children’s social care, Institute for
Government looks at spending, demand, workforce, efficiencies made
and future sustainability.
The Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education, within the
University of Oxford Department of Education, aims to identify what
works to improve the outcomes and life chances of children and young
people in foster care.
Coventry University is running the Child Welfare Inequalities Project.
You can find its research output on their website.
Paul Bywaters et al., Child welfare inequalities in the four nations of the
UK, Journal of Social Work, 2018

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