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Professionals warn over children’s social care plan

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Plans for councils to contract out social work to private practices could harm vulnerable children, professionals have warned.

The opening up of children’s social care to market forces is at the heart of the Children & Young Persons Bill, tabled for debate in the House of Lords this week.

In a pamphlet, Chris Waterman, the executive director of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), argues the move will fail to improve outcomes for youngsters.

“You can’t simply apply an idea that has had very mixed results in universal GP and education services to this uniquely vulnerable group of young people,” he writes in Motivation and agency in social work practices.

“There is every indication that these proposals will increase bureaucracy, inflate prices, blur accountability, and not deliver better services to looked-after children.”

ADCS co-president John Coughlan said he had fears surrounding accountability: “The one thing we don’t need to happen with social work practices is that councils put their responsibilities to young people in care at arm’s length.”

Dr Deborah Absalom, director of children’s services at Bexley LBC, said she feared the proposals could lead to a less integrated service.

“I’ve got some reservations about it from the point of view of the continuity of service that’s required from social workers,” she said.

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