The government’s review of children’s social care will provide an opportunity to reflect on an accumulated mass of research evidence, earlier reviews, and the views of care-experienced children, young people and families (Children’s social care: ‘wide-ranging’ review launched in England, 15 January).
However, to succeed, it will also have to address why earlier attempts to overhaul the system have failed. First, why they failed to gain political support for radically reducing child poverty and inequality, which is strongly associated with children coming into and remaining in care, and which will require an immediate commitment to more progressive income tax and wealth reform.
Second, why they failed to reverse the privatisation of children’s social care provision, resulting in the expansion of unregulated, poor quality care, abandoning some of the most vulnerable teenagers in society.
Third, why they failed to reverse draconian cuts to local authorities since 2010 – estimated at £2bn. These cuts have devastated services, preventing children and young people from being able to remain with their families and access high-quality, non-for-profit community and care services to enhance their mental health and wellbeing. Prof Mike Stein University of York
• Having spent my working life as a practitioner, manager and staff trainer in education and social care, I ought to welcome the news of a review. Sadly, however, I cannot, for it is not a review that is required, but rather a massive injection of money, and, from a Conservative government faced with a post-pandemic economy, that is hardly likely to be forthcoming.
Ten years of Tory austerity cuts have led to the destruction of Sure Start, the decimation of youth services, and the abandonment of funding for specialist services run by voluntary organisations. Local authorities handed over the provision of children’s homes to the private sector in order to save money, and they consistently fail to both assess and provide for children with special educational needs.
Having wreaked havoc, the government will no doubt give its usual cop-out response by saying that the answer to a care sector crisis is not to just throw money at it.
But, in one of the richest countries in the world, it is money that is urgently needed. The last thing we need is a review that is unlikely to discover anything we do not already know. We just need the previous funding restored. Mel Wood Dublin, Ireland
• The care review must have demonstrable independence. It has the appearance of accommodating the inclusion and methodology that a few voices championed on behalf of a great many others, but it is in the delivery of safety, stability and love that it will be judged.
The review lead should feel able to challenge the government whenever a matter is raised. There is no need to wait until the review is over, things can happen along the way. A first challenge will be to ensure that the government rectifies the proposal to remove care as a right of all children, as is signalled will happen in new minimum standards for currently unregulated settings.
Meanwhile, the sector should be bold and establish its own parallel care review and an independent group of social care experts –including experts by experience. Jonathan Stanley National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care Ed Nixon Every Child Leaving Care Matters