Today the Children’s Commissioner for England, publishes the Stability Index, an annual report which tracks the experiences of children in care.
Commenting on the findings, Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “The financial pressures facing schools and other public services are clearly having a detrimental effect on children and young people. Those with the highest levels of need, are paying the highest price. Too many looked after children are being passed from pillar to post.”
This report shows just how disruptive changing school can be. Around 4,300 children in care moved school in the middle of the year, and their new school was 24 miles away on average.
Mr Brook continued: “That’s the equivalent of living in Croydon and going to school in Crawley or having to travel from the Centre of Birmingham to Coventry or from Blackpool to Blackburn just to go to school. If they’ve already been moving around a lot, travelling long distances to school is exactly the opposite of what looked after children need.
“Experiences for some young people are extremely poor. For many, the issues they face are compounded by increased waiting times, having to travel long distances in order to receive support and the lack of continuity of care brought about by funding cuts.”
In our submission to the DfE call for evidence on children in need of help and protection, NAHT highlighted the lack of capacity for children’s social services to engage in proactive early intervention, which we know helps avoid children and their families reaching crisis point.
NAHT members also identified the lack of capacity of children’s social care to give ongoing support at a lower level, or ongoing monitoring. In school leaders’ experience, once a family has received an input, often to deal with a crisis situation, there is little or no follow up support or monitoring. For some children, the unsatisfactory process of re-referral is the only option to gain further support.
Mr Brook concluded: “What is needed is the capacity for children’s social care to undertake on-going monitoring to really help children in need and their families after the initial work. Without additional funds for health and social care, schools will be forced to use their own impossibly tight budgets to make up for cuts to these services and many young people will fall behind their peers, with uncertain chances of ever catching up.”
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