Ed Davey spoke to Jason Farrell, Sky News’ home editor about his own experience of kinship caring. Ed explained his grandparent’s involvement in his own upbringing and how his maternal grandfather and mother were critical to looking after him after the death of this father when he was just four. Ed spoke movingly, at times tearfully, about his mother’s illness and how that created strain between his mother and grandmother. When his mother died 11 years later, his grandparents looked after him full-time while living with the loss of their only child. Kinship care, where grandparents are supported and encouraged in looking after grandchildren alongside foster or adoptive parents, is the best form of care he says.
The interview was triggered by the publication of the final report from the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England. Ed welcomed the report but said “It is nowhere near ambitious enough”, adding:
No one answers the question of the problems many of our young people are facing in care when they lose a loved one or their parents are unable to look after them. So, I think they need to get behind Munira Wilson’s idea of funding a kinship carers allowance. They need to be much more supportive of kinship carers. I am afraid that this report doesn’t even touch the sides.
Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England
The review report concluded:
This moment is a once in a generation opportunity to reset children’s social care. What we need is a system that provides intensive help to families in crisis, acts decisively in response to abuse, unlocks the potential of wider family networks to raise children, puts lifelong loving relationships at the heart of the care system and lays the foundations for a good life for those who have been in care.
What we have currently is a system increasingly skewed to crisis intervention, with outcomes for children that continue to be unacceptably poor and costs that continue to rise. For these reasons, a radical reset is now unavoidable
While relationships are rich and organic, children’s social care can be rigid and linear. Rather than drawing on and supporting family and community, the system too often tries to replace organic bonds and relationships with professionals and services…
By this time next decade there will be approaching 100,000 children in care (up from 80,000 today) and a flawed system will cost over £15 billion per year (up from £10 billion now). Together, the changes we recommend will shift these trends and would mean 30,000 more children living safely and thriving with their families by 2032 compared to the current trajectory.
The report made three main recommendations:
- We should trust social workers to act in the best interests of children. When it comes to reviewing the care for a child, social workers have the relationship with a child and alongside their manager they should be supported and be responsible for making a best interest assessment.
- Genuinely independent advocacy for children in care should be opt-out, not opt-in. Children in care should have access to an adult that is unequivocally on their side and solely focused on making sure they are heard, which is particularly important when things go wrong with the care they receive.
- The gravity of the decision to remove children from their parents needs an independent second opinion. Therefore, the role of an independent Cafcass guardian is needed.