Ramsden: child care review must avoid centralization

The independent review of child welfare in England must avoid “any further development of a nationalized service,” said the chairman of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS).

Speaking to LGC, Charlotte Ramsden said she hoped the current review, which is chaired by Josh MacAlister, “would recognize the value of the local system running in place.”

“The role that local authorities play in partnership has been truly recognized in Covid, the agility of our response has been recognized,” commented Ms Ramsden, who said that a critical concern for her sector is any “significant nationalization of one of the services provided locally ”.

“We insist a lot on the continuation of the essential of the local delivery [of children’s services], with a work in partnership and some opportunities at the regional level which are not obligatory “, she added.

Ms Ramsden told LGC that many families in need of child protection also need early intervention, and expressed hope that Mr MacAlister would recognize the importance of both parts of the system ” Stay logged in “.

“It’s not a either, or,” she said.

“There is a very serious risk, and we told him very clearly, to divide this system, because it’s a system where families come in and go out, it’s fluid.”

Ms Ramsden also said she hoped the review would shed light on improvements in support for children in residential care.

“The current system is broken, as everyone keeps saying. And there is a market solution to that, but there is also a collaborative way of working.

“It’s not just about building more residential homes; it’s about working differently.

This could involve building different types of houses and accommodating the competing needs of children, Ramsden said.

Looking at the big picture, Ramsden told LGC that “the integrated services provided are absolutely the way to go.”

However, she cautioned that the integration should not simply be done “in order to avoid acute service needs.”

“For the moment, in adults, the risk is that the integration of social care for adults with health is measured more by its success in reducing hospital pressures than by quality results for adults,” he said. she declared.

“That’s the way it is, so that kind of integration will be really bad for the kids.”

Ms Ramsden explained that in order to successfully implement integration, the focus must be on “the focus on investing, creating these early support and support systems, and then being patient while the results occur ”.

She cited the example of mental health teams in schools, a “really crucial development”, which will eventually “stem some pressure on acute services”.

Another issue the sector is currently facing is the pressure on funding children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send). “What has happened with the current Send system is pushing children towards specialized services and reducing the inclusiveness of traditional services,” Ms. Ramsden told LGC.

The exhaustion of the Send offer in some mainstream schools has led some children to travel long distances in order to receive specialized care and education.

“We want this to be reversed and we are doing everything we can to show the importance of education in place,” Ms. Ramsden said.

It needs to come in the form of a multi-agency response, she argued: “It’s not just about training teachers and school staff to do more or to do it differently. It’s about offering them other services.

“There is a responsibility of the board in terms of family support … but then there is a health response in terms of access to therapists, speech therapy, occupational therapy, mental health support, etc. “

This response must also be developed in “partnership with parents”, she underlined.

“It is really important that the councils play a vital role in partnership with the parents, because if the parents do not trust the system, it is inevitable that they will advocate for a specialized offer. “

“And obviously the risk is that part of this specialized provision is a long way [from] the community of origin of the child.

Ms Ramsden was speaking to LGC ahead of the government’s recent announcement of a review of the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes following the conviction of his father and stepmother. Responding to the announcement of a review, Ms Ramsden said: “The death of a child at the hands of those who should love and care for him is both heartbreaking and despicable.”

Although ADCS does not comment on individual cases, she said: “Significant progress has been made over the past decades to help improve our ability to protect children; the use of relationship-based models of practice, our knowledge of effective interventions, and the integration of many -agency work all played a role. “

Ms Ramsden added, “In addition to learning lessons and improving systems when things don’t go as planned, children’s services need to be able to meet the needs of the children and families most. early as possible to avoid escalation. “