Barnardo’s chief calls for targets to speed up care process

Barnardo’s chief executive Martin Narey is calling for tough targets to address the slow progress of children in care cases through the courts.

Speaking at a Barnardo’s conference staged in London to mark the charity’s fostering and adoption week, Narey said: “Children are having to wait too long for cases to be resolved in court and urgent action is required so that decisions are taken within a timescale that meets the child’s need.

“Targets seem to be going out of fashion in the public services. But I’m an unreconstructed fan of targets and we urgently need system wide targets to help drive down delays, which are not in the interests of the child. Government has promised this but we need to see them urgently.”

Narey sparked a row last September when he said social workers needed to be braver about removing children at risk and spend less time “fixing families that can’t be fixed”.

The comments were condemned by the British Association of Social Workers for being too simplistic and by the Conservative Party for adopting shock tactics.

Speaking at the conference he hit out at his critics, who “sought to undermine my view by caricaturing it”.

He told delegates: “We need to accept that the number of children in care might have to climb and remain, not at anything like the numbers in the early eighties, but at a higher level than we have got used to over the past decade or so.

“And the reason for that is quite simple. When we have reached the sad conclusion that parents can’t provide the love and stability that a child needs, care might not effect a transformation. But it will, contrary to anecdote, make things better.”