In January, the government announced a review into children’s social care. Independent review of children’s social care – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
The NNPCF have been working with the review team to ensure the voice of parent carer forums is heard and that the review understands and considers the unique challenges faced by our families.
NNPCF co-chairs Tina Emery and Mrunal Sisodia met with the officials leading the review in March. In our meeting, we described the work of parent carer forums and our unique role in representing the experiences of families and in coproducing improved outcomes. We also raised five issues that we wanted to make sure that the review considered:
- “Support not safeguarding” – Much of the social care system is focussed on safeguarding and the approaches and systems are too often based in this model. CYP with SEND and their families need support from the social care system and the bias towards safeguarding means that families slip through the net and further families are reluctant to engage with social care.
- Input into EHCPs – PCFs report that social care input into EHCPs remains patchy- often there is no input or that input is very superficial.
- Consistency and criteria – there is a postcode lottery for social care services. Some areas recognise children with SEND and children in need, most do not; many areas have different (and high) thresholds for services.
- Availability of services – many social care services that families would benefit from are simply not available to too many. Thresholds and cuts mean that respite care, residential care and short breaks are in short supply. Children’s social care must be prioritised and funded properly.
- Prioritisation with the NHS integrated care systems – we must ensure that children’s social care is included in plans being developed by the new integrated care systems.
We have arranged a series of engagement events with the social care team. These include:
- Attendance at regional NNPCF meetings in the Yorkshire and Humber and London regions to hear directly from PCFs
- Joining the East of England and South West SEND regional leads meeting
- Attending an NNPCF steering group meeting in June
- Josh MacAllister, the independent chair of the review, will be meeting with the NNPCF co-chairs
After these and other engagement events, the review plans to publish a “case for change” in early June. Josh MacAllister has agreed to run a webinar for PCFs to brief them on the key areas of focus for the review and how the experiences of CYP with SEND are reflected in their agenda.
The review is also working with our partners at Contact and the Disabled Children’s Partnership to meet with a roundtable of charities and individual parents to hear their stories.
We will keep you informed of our work and will share details of the webinar with Josh once they have been finalised.