Government efforts to improve residential care will focus on just two
areas until there is clarity about leadership arrangements across
children’s social care in its entirety, the man in charge of the reforms
Sir Alan Wood, chair of the Residential Care Leadership Board set up to lead on the delivery of changes recommended in Sir Martin Narey’s 2016 review of the sector, told CYP Now
that for the time being, resources are being concentrated on trialling
so-called Staying Close arrangements for young people to remain
supported up to 25, and looking at ways to improve placement
He said that as of yet no appointments have been
made to the board, and that is likely to continue to be the case until
the Department for Education has decided whether to pursue a
recommendation in the recent fostering stocktake that an overarching “permanence board” be established.
The stocktake, which was co-chaired by Sir Martin Narey and Mark
Owers, called for a permanence board to be set up to oversee the work of
the existing Adoption Leadership Board, the Residential Care Leadership
Board, and a similar arrangement for fostering.
In total, Narey’s review of residential care made 34 recommendations.
“With the change of ministers there has been a bit of a hiatus about
the residential care leadership board moving forward,” Wood said.
“What I have been doing is visiting people, providers, and homes,
meeting pilot projects on commissioning work, and collecting
information. But I guess we won’t be able to do a great deal more than
that until thinking about the permanence board is clarified.
"It would be foolish to keep starting up boards if there are just lots of people with lots of boards.”
A total of eight pilots have now launched, including one run by Fair Ways Foundation in Southampton, and St Christopher’s Fellowship in London alongside Ealing Council, Hounslow Council, the West London Alliance and mental health charity MAC-UK.
Close involves offering young people leaving residential care the
chance to move into nearby supported accommodation, in order to maintain
attachments with their former home and its staff through regular visits
and ongoing support.
And Wood said three projects funded through
the Department for Education’s social care innovation fund to improve
the commissioning of children’s homes – in Essex, north London, and
south London, are under way.
“I have sent letters to stakeholders saying we will be taking forward reforms in those [two] key areas,” Wood said.
Sir Alan Wood is chair of the Residential Care Leadership Board. Picture: Alex Deverill