local authority care homes - need 'undivided support to ensure that all
the emotional and psychological difficulties they face are attended to
promptly and effectively,' according to directors of social services.
Commenting on the launch of a Social Exclusion Unit report on young
runaways*, ADSS president David Behan said: 'This is an honest,
constructive report, and one which reflects the need to apply the best
local authority practice in this field right across the board. Its
recommendations are well-balanced, and if properly implemented should
see a timely improvement in the quality of care for a small but
dreadfully vulnerable group of children and young people.'
Congratulating the unit for bringing 'clarity and purpose' to an area of
care which needs the effective co-ordination of many public services, Mr
Behan singled out plans to oblige local authorities and police services
- Nominate lead officers with responsibilities to youngsters who run
- Improve the monitoring and management arrangements planned for
children missing from care,
- Provide a common approach to assessment.
And he particularly praised the report's argument that additional
support should be made available to 16 and 17 year old children who,
having run away, found it difficult to return to their family homes.
'Currently, these young adolescents are frighteningly vulnerable, often
taking to a life on the streets rather than face the traumas that life
at home might bring them. The SEU is right to draw attention to them,
and to encourage all local and national services to focus on the
difficulties they face.
'There is no doubt,' he said, 'that these recommendations have
significant resource implications for social services and other
agencies, and these will be debated in appropriate forums. Working with
other agencies and the department of health to bring as many of these
proposals into operation over the coming years will be uppermost in
social services directors' minds.'
The direction the SEU report takes, he added, 'closely mirrors the work
ADSS has done with the Local Government Association and the NHS
Confederation in preparing our new, collective vision for children's
services*, and very much points the way in which those services must
develop over the coming five to ten years.'
* See LGCnet.