All Party Parliamentary Group for Children inquiry into children s social care invitation to submit written evidence

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1 All Party Parliamentary Group for Children c/o NCB (Policy) 8 Wakley Street London EC1V 7QE Dear Directors of Children s Services, All Party Parliamentary Group for Children inquiry into children s social care invitation to submit written evidence We are writing to invite you to submit written evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children s inquiry into children s social care. The All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC) provides MPs and Peers with a forum for cross-party consensus-building on children s policy. It draws extensively upon the views and experiences of children and young people and also facilitates engagement between Parliamentarians and the children s statutory and voluntary sector. A long-running All-Party Group, the APPGC is highly respected and regularly engages with government Ministers. It has been successful in achieving policy change for the benefit of children and young people; most recently in relation to policing. The APPGC is conducting this inquiry to address local arrangements for the delivery of children s social care services in light of changes in resources and demand, a new inspection framework and diversity in performance and outcomes. While the focus of the inquiry will be on children s social care services in England, the inquiry will seek to draw upon evidence of challenges and effective responses across the devolved nations in order to share examples of good working across the UK. The inquiry aims to: bring together evidence about the current resourcing of children s social care services and changes in the nature and level of demand explore the (potential) impact of these changes on the delivery of children s social care services and on children and young people build a picture of the key elements of a successful children s services department and the challenge facing areas that are struggling to improve, and share examples of good practice assess whether changes are needed to policy and legislation in order to improve the delivery of children s social care services and in turn outcomes for children identify any learning that can be shared from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. We are keen to hear about your experience of leading children s social care services and your views on the challenges which need to be addressed by policy makers in order to

2 improve provision for children and young people. Through the inquiry, we wish to identify the local arrangements that well-performing authorities have in place, and what can be learned from these. We would therefore welcome receiving examples of good practice from across the United Kingdom that may have enhanced the delivery of children s social care services through a systems-based approach e.g. collaborative working, devolution, outsourcing, leadership, and the use of local data. We are also keen to hear from local authorities that are struggling to improve about the barriers they face or approaches that have proved ineffective in their area. Please find on page 3 details of the call for written evidence, which we would be grateful if you could please respond to by 7 March. Alternatively, please do not hesitate to contact the secretariat should you wish to provide evidence via a telephone conversation. Evidence submitted will inform the setting of oral evidence sessions, which will begin after Easter. We would be grateful if you could please indicate on the form whether you, or a member of your team, would be prepared to give oral evidence in Parliament. We aim to publish findings from the inquiry by early We will of course keep you informed of meeting dates and further opportunities for you to engage in the inquiry. Please contact Heather Ransom, Clerk to the APPG for Children, with regard to any queries and to submit any evidence or information you are willing to share ). Tim Loughton MP Co-Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group for Children Baroness Howarth of Breckland Co-Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group for Children

3 Co-Chairs: Tim Loughton MP, Baroness Howarth of Breckland Vice-Chairs: Baroness Walmsley, Baroness Blood, Sarah Champion MP, Douglas Chapman MP Secretary: Baroness Massey of Darwen Treasurer: Earl of Listowel Clerk: Heather Ransom APPG for Children Inquiry into children s social care Call for written evidence The All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC) has launched a new inquiry to address local arrangements for the delivery of children s social care services in light of changes in resources and demand, a new inspection framework and diversity in performance and outcomes. While the focus of the inquiry will be on services in England, the inquiry will seek to draw upon evidence of challenges and effective responses across the devolved nations in order to share examples of practice across the UK. To inform the inquiry, the APPGC is calling on stakeholders across the children s sector to submit written evidence on the current state of arrangements for the provision of children s social care, including services for safeguarding children and for helping looked after children and children in need. The Group would also welcome hearing about the delivery of early intervention services which enable children to remain with their family. Evidence indicates that, over the past five years in England, overall demand for children s social care services has increased, while English local authorities spending power has decreased. The nature of children s need has also change, with greater concerns, for example, about radicalisation and child sexual exploitation. In addition, children s social care services are implementing a range of reforms following recent changes to the legislative framework, such as those relating to special education needs and disability and adoption. These are taking place at the same time as the implementation of reforms to social work practice led by the Chief Social Worker for children and families. In light of these ongoing and emerging challenges facing children s social care services, the APPGC has decided to conduct an inquiry to: bring together evidence about the current resourcing of children s social care services and changes in the nature and level of demand explore the impact (or potential impact)of these changes on the delivery of children s social care services and on children and young people build a picture of the key elements of a successful children s services department and the challenge facing areas that are struggling to improve, and share examples of good practice assess whether changes are needed to policy and legislation in order to improve the delivery of children s social care services and in turn outcomes for children

4 identify any learning that can be shared from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Local authority leaders and service providers from across the United Kingdom will be invited to present examples of good practice in the delivery of children s social care services, and to outline the barriers to improvement they are facing. The inquiry will also hear directly from children and young people about their experiences of children s social care services. Oral evidence sessions will be held in Parliament between April and July 2016, and findings from the inquiry will be published by early Deadline for submissions is Monday 7 th March 2016 please see call for evidence form below.

5 APPG for Children inquiry into children s social care: call for evidence form The All Party Parliamentary Group for Children would welcome written evidence from a range of stakeholders including: Directors of Children s Services Children s social services managers and practitioners Chairs of Local Safeguarding Children s Boards Children s services providers including the private and voluntary sector Children in Care Councils Organisations representing the voices and interests of children and young people Written submissions will inform the setting of oral evidence sessions, which will be held between April and July The questions below cover a range of issues relating to the delivery of children s social services. Please feel free to answer only those which relate to your area of expertise. Contact details Name: Walter McCulloch Job title: Assistant Director Organisation: Leicestershire County Council / telephone number): Please indicate if you would be prepared to give oral evidence: 1. Changing demand and funding for children s social services How has demand and funding for children s social care services in England changed? What changes are expected in the future? Demand for children s social care services increases year on year. In part this is a result of national stimuli such as high profile safeguarding issues like historical abuse by high profile figures, but also because of the emergence of newer areas of concern such as missing, trafficking and child sexual exploitation. In that area alone we have seen a doubling of cases in the past twelve months. As the ability to identify such risks becomes more sophisticated it is likely that demand levels will increase. 2. The impact of changes on the delivery of children s social services What has been, or could be, the impact of any changes to funding and demand on the delivery of children s social care services? Pressure on local authority budgets has brought into sharp relief the balance between funding of children s social care and early help services. So far in this authority, although there has been some budget reductions, there has been a commitment to fund both. This has supported our strategy of ensuring that early help services are strategically deployed exactly alongside those of social care to offer a proportionate response to need and providing a more cost effective earlier responses to families.

6 3. The impact of changes on outcomes for children and young people What has been, or could be, the impact of any changes to funding, demand and service delivery on children and young people? In this authority we have particularly gathered the opinion of children and families about the early help services. There is a strong and distinct endorsement from families about the effectiveness of this approach. If these services were to be reduced it is likely that demand management for social care would be more difficult, the volume of activity and ultimately costs would rise. 4. The role of the local authority children s social services What are local authorities doing to respond to changes in demand and funding? What barriers do they face to meeting these challenges? What distinguishes the best performing children s social care services from those that are not performing so well? This local authority has deliberately recalibrated its provision for children and families. This has meant that early help and children s social care have become a more obviously continuous service. In doing this there has also been a requirement to reduce the budget. These two drivers have therefore resulted in elements of early help being withdrawn. In particular, whereas there was two or three years ago, some aspects of early help that could be universally available, that is no longer the case. 5. The policy and legislative framework Is the current and developing policy and legislative framework sufficient to enable children s social care services to meet children s needs in the current context? How could it be improved? Yes. The key challenge is that schools, the NHS and other key partners face the same very challenging financial pressures as local authorities. Maintaining a clear and shared priority on the needs of children is not always easy to achieve. 6. Learning from the devolved nations Are national and local authorities in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales facing similar challenges? How are they responding to these challenges? What learning and examples of effective responses could be shared across the UK? I am not in a position to answer this with any authority.

7 7. Sharing good practice Finally, we welcome examples of good practice from across the United Kingdom, and in particular examples relating to one of more of the following themes: improving local arrangements in the delivery of children s social care services including: o services for children in care and adopted children o safeguarding and child protection services o services for disabled children and children with special educational needs o early intervention services including for example family support, housing, and public and mental health services collaboration across cities/areas/regions in the delivery of children s social care services the use of evidence (e.g. on local need/demand) and best practice in informing the commissioning, configuration and delivery of children s social care services securing effective leadership implementation of special educational needs and disability (SEND) reforms I would want to promote Leicestershire s approach to early help which is constructed around an evidence based approach and includes our Troubled Families programme and our children s centre The programme. deadline This for both is a centrally written evidence commissioned submissions service but is Monday delivered 7 on March a local basis. For queries or further information please contact Heather Ransom, clerk to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children Completed forms should be returned to by Monday 7 th March. Submissions received after this date will still be considered, but may not inform oral evidence sessions.

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