Families agree that children’s social care system is ‘30-year-old tower of Jenga’

3 mins read

Thursday 17 June 2021

Tags: disabled children's partnership, social care, send, short breaks

The children’s social care system in England is a “30-year-old tower of Jenga held together with Sellotape: simultaneously rigid and shaky,” an independent review of the sector has concluded today. 

Chaired by Josh MacAlister, the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care ‘Case for Change’ report found that the service is riddled with bureaucracy and risk aversion and needs urgent systemic change. Without it, children’s social care will “both become more expensive and continue to be inadequate in the support it gives to children and families,” said MacAlister. 

The Disabled Children’s Partnership, of which Contact is a leading member, argued the report “paints a picture of a system under strain, that is too focused on investigation rather than supporting families; and that is in urgent need of investment and reform.” 

They said: “This will be all too familiar to families with disabled children. When the review was launched, we were very concerned that it would not have any focus on disabled children and families. We are pleased, therefore, that the review team has listened to the views and experiences of parent carers; and that the report recognises that the system is failing to provide them with the support they need.  

“As the report states, there is a range of work underway in government looking at provision for disabled children, including the long-awaited SEND Review. We expect the SEND review will also look at social care support for families, but it must not fall between these reviews.  

“The Case for Change is a good start. As it moves onto its next stage, the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care must develop recommendations to address the specific needs of disabled children and their families.” 

A mother’s view 

One of Contact’s supporters, parent carer Marissa, agreed that the report is “spot on when it describes the discord between a social services department that is in conflict with itself, trying to provide both safeguarding protection and offer support.”  

“As a carer of a child who has 24-hour 1-2-1 needs, I went to our social services to get respite care – only for my daughter’s school, GP and hospital services to be flagged up that our daughter now has a social worker. Their assumption was that there must be a safeguarding issue to be aware of, when there is not,” added Marissa.

“Ironically, we still haven’t received a single second of the respite support promised. Instead we have been forced to spend a huge amount of time urgently addressing this ignorance and trying to convince ‘professionals’ that our much loved, very happy and well-looked-after child is safe.” 

Read the full Case for Change report.  For support with accessing or navigating social care services, visit our social care webpages or check out our comprehensive parent guide