Children’s minister Robert Goodwill believes that local government can drive improvement in children’s social care services and requires more resources to achieve this, according to the president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services.
Speaking at the National Children and Adult Services Conferences today, Alison Michalska said ADCS, the Local Government Association and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers have been developing a “trusted, effective, sector-led” improvement model.
But she added that there is currently insufficient capacity and funding within the sector to implement the model “at the required level of regular engagement and consistency”.
Ms Michalska said: “I’m pleased… that [Mr Goodwill] too sees that the expertise and the skills required to improve children’s services lie within the sector itself but that the sector needs resourcing so it can build capacity that can be released and shared safely.
“There are some points of difference of course, like the best way to beef up peer capacity to support councils in or on the cusp of intervention.”
She added that it would be “foolish” to overlook the “gold dust” that councils that have moved from an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating to ’good’ could share with other councils that are struggling.
Mr Goodwill, who is due to speak at NCASC on Thursday, recently backed a decision by children’s commissioner Eleanor Brazil to reject an option for Kirkless MBC to develop a children’s trust to run social care services in favour of a formal improvement partnership with Leeds City Council.
Essex CC cabinet member for children Dick Madden (Con) was one of the architects of the sector-led model.
He said ADCS, the LGA and Solace are calling on the Department of Education to show “real ambition” and support the sector to drive its own improvement.
Cllr Madden said: “We can put sector-led improvement into the wider corporate and political context that we all know is so important.
“We are confident that we can deliver real improvement for all councils with just a fraction of the DfE’s current £300m budget for improvement and innovation. We just need that opportunity.”
He told delegates the model would form a part of an intense government lobbying effort by local government organisations this year.
Today ADCS also published a policy paper calling on the government to “quickly” address a projected £2bn shortfall in children’s services in 2020 and for more co-ordination across Whitehall departments responsible for children
It also called for DfE to carry out a cross-government review of the links between rising child poverty and demand for children’s statutory services.