The Department for Education has set out its long-term plans for the reform of children’s social care in England.
- piloting a new, more joined-up and evidence-based approach to supporting families
- testing a new Child Protection Lead Practitioner role to better identify and respond to significant harm
- providing improved training and support for kinship carers
- investing in family finding, befriending and mentoring programmes to support children in care
- supporting local recruitment of child and family social worker apprentices.
The government is seeking feedback on its Stable homes built on love: implementation strategy and consultation, alongside:
- a new national framework which sets out principles for practice in children’s social care, the outcomes they should be aiming for, and the indicators used to measure them
- rules on employing agency workers in children’s social care.
Consultation on all three documents will run until 11 May 2023, with the government’s response expected in September 2023.
These plans are in response to findings and recommendations from:
- the Independent review of children’s social care
- the National review into the deaths of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson
- the Competition and Markets Authority’s Children’s social care market study.
In September 2023, as part of the implementation strategy, the Department for Education will start working with three local areas, known as “Families First Pathfinders”. Up to nine more local areas will join the Pathfinder programme in the second year of the strategy. These areas will pilot key proposals from the strategy, including: new family help services, changes to child protection arrangements and greater use of family networks. There will be an ongoing evaluation of service delivery in these areas to establish how best to implement the changes on a wider scale.
The government will issue the National Framework for children’s social care by the end of the year. This will be followed by a one-year implementation period, to help local authorities put the Framework into practice. The Framework will be accompanied by a dashboard of indicators measuring outcomes for children.
As part of these reforms, the government is also planning to consult on updates to Working Together guidance in spring 2023, with a new version due to be issued by the end of the year.
The new rules on employing agency workforce will come into force in Spring 2024.
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