MacAlister: Regional planning for child welfare ‘should cut profits’

A ‘drastic reset’ of child welfare to focus on supporting families would reduce private sector involvement and ‘significantly reduce profits’ for some companies, author of government-commissioned study says .

The Independent Child Welfare Review, led by Josh MacAlister, was published yesterday and called for £2.6billion in funding to improve child welfare.

Speaking to LGC, Mr MacAlister said the provision of social care for children should not be based on profit and that the provision of planning at regional or combined authority level would help reduce the need for costly placements in the private sector.

He said: “The main thing we are calling for is a radical reset of the whole system so that we move it from the crisis intervention cycle to loving and caring for children.

“For local government in particular, we say we need to see a major change in the way we help families. What we are proposing is the new family support model and that would see local authorities leading these services and ensuring they are provided outside the community,” he said.

The review comes at a time when decentralization is a priority for councils. Mr. MacAlister, Founder and CEO of is the founder and CEO of Frontline, a charity that supports vulnerable children, told LGC his plan “fits” into broader trends.

“There are elements of social care for children that need to be done even more locally,” he explained. “For example, family support, where we need a very good understanding at the neighborhood level of what families and children need. Then we have to build and design to meet that need. This corresponds to certain reflections on health reforms and the integration of health care systems.

However, the review proposes the management of all new public sector childcare, residential and gated services, as well as the commissioning of all non-profit and private childcare services provided by regional cooperatives. of care. Mr MacAlister said ‘there is an opportunity here for the Combined Authority Areas to take the lead’.

This is in order to guarantee a diversified offer “over a wider area so that the various needs of children can be met as close to their homes as possible”.

The review also includes recommendations to help local authorities support wider family networks to look after children, for example through payments to family carers.

“When care [placements are] used, the guiding principle should be that it builds lifelong loving relationships, so we need to have enough foster families and children’s homes in the right place to meet that need. And that requires a big shake-up of who actually plans and manages foster care and residential care,” he said.

Mr MacAlister expects that with better planning there will be less involvement of private companies, which have recently been accused of profiteering.

Last week, LGC analysis revealed the extent of the profits of the largest childcare companies.

“One of the principles I have set out is that the care of children in children’s social services should not be based on profit,” Mr MacAlister said.

“If the for-profit provision is to be used in the future, local authorities need to be clear on why it is being used.

“One of the ways to address this is to plan much better to meet the needs of children in care in the years to come in order to reduce on-the-spot purchases.”

This means that there are better provisions for young people “as close as possible to where they grow up”, which “should significantly reduce the profits that occur within the system”.

The government has so far committed £312million to implement some of the measures set out in the review and pledged to respond in full in due course.