Children’s services must recover, restore and reset after the pandemic

Jenny Coles, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), outlines the need to invest in children’s services and address inequalities in conference speech.

Jenny Coles addressed attendees in the opening session of the virtual National Children and Adult Services Conference (NCASC) 2020 conference, making the case for investing in children’s services.

The ADCS President argued that ‘the case for investing in children has never been stronger’ to prevent a whole generation of children and young people from disadvantage.

She argued investment must focus more on prevention and early intervention, as well as ‘resetting the SEND system’ to ensure the needs of children are met in mainstream settings where possible and as close to home as possible.

The Hertfordshire County Council DCS also challenged the children’s care home market, arguing it is an ‘illusory market’ adding that it ‘will not address the spiralling costs of independent placements.’

“Mergers and buy-outs by venture capitalists are actually contracting the number of providers in the ‘market’.

“The Care Review offers the opportunity to think creatively about using care in a flexible way to support families staying together rather than separating them – a shared care model. It is time to act.”

The ADCS President also made the case for actively tackling child poverty, and focusing on closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers, saying: “There is an opportunity for government to pursue its levelling up agenda, through the lens of social justice and for the statutory and voluntary sectors to play their parts.”

“None of us is wholly sure what lies beyond the Covid horizon. But I know my colleagues in children’s services across England will remain committed, as I am, to making this a country that works for all children.”

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