Councils urge for radical approach to children’s services

The New Local Government Network has argued that the government must adopt a radical new approach to children’s services to avert the growing crisis.

The think tanks new report, From Tiny Acorns: Communities Shaping the Future of Children’s Services, stresses that because of a decade-long decline in local government funding, recent cash injections will not put the current social care system on a sustainable footing and meet rising demand as the Chancellor proposed.

Children’s services continue to face an uncertain future, with the funding gap expected to rise to £3.1 billion by 2025, a growing child population and a trend of rising child poverty. NLGN argues that the government’s plans cannot stop at this short-term funding pot.

The report identifies community as the solution to the spiralling crisis, saying that a radically different approach to stem current demand, envisioning children and families not as passive users of public services, but as the beating heart of delivery – presenting a future, for example, where the community takes on greater ownership for the youth centres the Chancellor now plans to fund.

Adam Lent, director of the New Local Government Network, said: “Children’s services is at a crisis point. Preventative programmes that are required to stem the trend of higher and higher demand are precisely the programmes councils have had to cut due to austerity. While the Spending Round marks a supposed end to this, the short-term cash injection must be just the beginning.

“That strategy must guarantee all government departments will drive forward an early intervention and prevention agenda. The moment to harness the power of community has to be seized. Without this, children’s services will become another item on the domestic agenda subsumed by the focus on Brexit.”

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