Social work and child law experts express “deep concern” about social care review
A joint letter, signed by 27 organisations and over 100 individuals with substantial experience of children and families social work, has been sent to the Secretary of State for Education.
Social work and child law experts have expressed “deep concern” about the forthcoming review of social care in England in a joint letter sent to the Secretary of State for Education.
The letter raises concerns over the independence of the chair of the recently announced once-in-a-generation review of children’s social care, the review’s time period and its wide scope.
“The scope of the review is unrealistically wide for a relatively short time period, especially within the context of a global pandemic,” the letter states. Josh MacAlister, Founder of Frontline and soon-to-be Chair of the review, has indicated on social media that he expects to complete the review in 12 to 15 months.
The letter follows scrutiny from many in the social work sector over whether the Chair of the review is sufficiently independent, with the organisation he founded having received more than £70 million in Department for Education funding.
The letter also asks the Government to agree that any proposals for reform of the Children Act 1989 coming from the review process will be passed to the Law Commission.
The letter has been signed by 27 organisations and has the support of a further 100 individuals working in social work and child law. Signatories of the letter are said to have over 2,000 years’ cumulative experience of children’s social care in England – including charity heads and associations representing social workers.
Former Chairs and prominent members of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) added their signatures – including Judith Timms OBE, Ray Jones, and David N Jones – however BASW as an organisation has not signed.
The Association of Lawyers for Children, said: “We are pleased to join so many other organisations and child care professionals as signatories to this incredibly important letter on the proposed ‘wholesale independent review of children's social care’."
Together Trust, a disability charity based in the North West, said they were “proud” to add their 150 years’ experience alongside many other experts.
The joint action to try and influence the review comes days after government answers to parliamentary questions revealed that key groups and organisations were not invited to the online launch of the review on 15 January.
The budget for the review has not yet been agreed, though the Department for Education states it will work with the lead reviewer to ensure there are sufficient resources available to undertake the review.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education did not comment on reiterated “the independent review of children’s social care will set out to radically reform the system” and that they will shortly be setting out timings.
“Whilst the lead reviewer will ultimately make a final set of recommendations, this will be on the basis of extensive consultation with other groups and individuals whose voices should be heard.”
The letter was signed by:
Carolyne Willow, Founder Director, Article 39
Nuala Mole, Senior Lawyer, The Aire Centre
Siobhan Kelly & Hannah Perry, Co-Chairs, Association of Lawyers for Children
Tom Croft & Diana Skelton, National Coordination Team, ATD Fourth World
Dr Pippa Murray, Director, Bringing Us Together
David Graham, National Director, The Care Leavers’ Association
Dr Mark Kerr, Chief Executive, Centre for Outcomes of Care
Dr Simon Duffy, Director, Centre for Welfare Reform
Cyrus Larizadeh QC, Chair, Family Law Bar Association
Amanda Knowles MBE, Service Manager (Director), Future Horizons
Sylvia Duncan, Chair, Institute for the Recovery from Childhood Trauma
Will Calver, Founder, Isabel’s Voice
Legal Action for Women (co-ordinates Support Not Separation)
Rachel Bannister, Chair, Mental Health Time for Action
Sukhchandan Pal Kaur, Chair, Nagalro (The Professional Association for Children’s Guardians, Family Court Advisers and Independent Social Workers)
Tim Bateman, Chair National Association for Youth Justice
Jon Fayle & Paul Smart, Co-Chairs National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers
Mark Warr, Chief Executive Officer, National House Project
June Leat, Founder and Chair, Parents of traumatised adopted teens organisation (The Potato Group)
Social Work Education Anti-Racist Network
Social Workers Without Borders
SPACE (Stop and Prevent Adolescent Criminal Exploitation)
Dr Sylvia Schroer, Chair, Special Guardians and Adopters Together
Mark Lee, Chief Executive, Together Trust
Stephen Gray, Chief Executive Officer, Young Lives Foundation
Jo Cobley, Chief Executive, Young Roots
Valerie Clark, Director & Solicitor, Youth Legal
Plus, more than 100 individuals.
Read the letter in full, or see the full list of signatories: