The government has today (15 January) announced the start of its review of children’s social care. Founder and Chief Executive of social work training charity Frontline, Josh MacAlister, has been appointed by the Secretary of State for Education to chair the review.
Carolyne Willow, Article 39’s Director, said:
“We warmly welcome the review’s confirmation that the people who matter the most are children and young people themselves, and agree that fundamental change is required to ensure our country’s children’s social care system gives the best care, protection and support to children and their families.
“However, we are very concerned about what the government has in store for children’s social care. Since 2016, it has made four serious attempts at dismantling the legal architecture of our child welfare system, and we fear this may be the start of yet another move to remove legal rights and duties and undermine the role of local authorities.
“The Conservative Party’s 2019 election manifesto promised an independent review yet the Secretary of State has appointed a review chair who is very close to government. Shortly before the election, Josh MacAlister was lead author of a blueprint for children’s social care which could have been subject to rigorous, independent scrutiny through this review. Now, we’re left wondering whether that vision is the shape of things to come.
“Coming just weeks after the appointment of a Children’s Commissioner who was found by the Education Select Committee to have major gaps in her knowledge and professional experience, ministers appear to be increasingly reliant on a small government bubble of friends and allies to undertake tasks of great magnitude.
“We had hoped that someone like a highly respected retired judge or academic, or a reputed children’s author, would be appointed to undertake this incredibly important role. Someone who could generate hope and inspiration that positive change for children and children’s rights is at last on the way. Instead, today’s announcement sounds like the government already knows what it wants to happen next in children’s social care. And that makes us nervous for children.”