ADSS Welcome Children In Care Bill

Directors of Children’s Services have welcomed many aspects of the government’s Green Paper on children in care published today. And, speaking as their statutory, corporate parents, said they are `delighted’ to share the government’s ambitious aims and objectives for the children concerned.

According to John Freeman and John Coughlan, co-Presidents designate of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, “we have been deeply impressed by the number of excellent proposals that the DfES have come forward with.

“We are particularly pleased that government will be setting up a structured framework within which its ideas can be further developed, and we shall give all the forums in which these debates are to be held our full and active support.”

But both co-Presidents stressed that the Green Paper needs to be seen in the context of new children’s services departments being set up in most local authorities under the Children Act 2004 and which, headed up by a director of children’s services, are responsible for delivering the five outcomes for children.

“These new departments are steadily bedding into local government and tackling their new responsibilities keenly. They are providing significant new opportunities for children in care, and are promising to help us, alongside our  partners, achieve substantial advantages and benefits for all our children,” they said.

 “We remain doubtful about the practicality of any proposals which could undermine those departments by confusing important lines of accountability within the local authority.”

They welcomed the fact that the Green Paper has not viewed all young people in care as an homogenous group: “They aren’t. They have, to varying degrees, highly complex needs flowing most frequently from their pre-care experiences, some of which have involved serious physical and/or sexual abuse. Some come in and out of the care system very rapidly, and for sometimes very short periods.

“We acknowledge that more work needs to be done on researching the experiences of these children when they have left care and gone back to their parents. As we recognise, too,  that there are urgent issues of parenting within our culture and society which need urgently to be addressed.”

Both co-presidents remained unconvinced that the changes can be wrought without substantial investment. “Changes to placement systems, foster care, workforce patterns and the like are vitally important if we are to improve services to these very vulnerable children. But change doesn’t come cheap, and nor should it be expected to,” they said.