“The family courts body received 10,199 new applications between April 2011 and March 2012, a 10.8% rise on the same period last year.” (Community Care). There is no shock here [sadly] and no surprise either. I say this because after reading another article on the Children Service’s blog I ordered a copy of the book quoted ‘Lost in Care‘. Almost immediately it talks about the research undertaken for this book commissioned due to the large numbers of children coming into care (being greater than the previous years).
Although it is arguable that this surge in referrals has been in part, largely due to the death of baby Peter and the fear of this being repeated again. It is sadly more likely to be due to the massive cuts in budgets for all organisations that work with family’s and children. Resulting in catastrophic consequences for many families struggling to manage; leaving their children at risk of neglect and further abuse either intentionally or unintentionally.
Rightly so this is where the Government wants Social Care to be focusing its services towards. Where ‘The Big Society’ should be picking up the gaps in the services that have been cut. Which, as we are all aware has been an outstanding flop! coupled with the media’s often biased view creating a polarising effect for Social Workers who are trying to engage in early intervention, often finding [rightly] an unwillingness to engage because of fear of losing their child[ren].
Will there ever be an easy answer to solve the dilemma of the rising number of children coming into care? probably not if there continues to be an unwillingness to invest in Social Care – being either in early intervention (parenting classes, more midwives, health visitors and free childcare places) or a more advanced early intervention with CAMHS being able to have the funding to engage with families at an early stage rather than when the young person reaches a threshold so high that any work is unlikely to be meaningful to the family. Or Social Workers who are trained to an even higher level who can carry out short term crisis work with the whole family before the crisis becomes a normal way of life for family’s leading to the removal of their child[ren].
However, social work continues to work to the principles as set out in the Children Act 1989 and 2004 working with the Children and Young People to prevent children coming into care. While we wait to see how Social Care will be developed and changed as the Government tries to slimline a service that carry’s a greater expectation than any other organisation to produce results that will never please everyone.