Children England News
The CMA has described the fatal flaws in the children's social care market - now we must transition away from it
"A continuous refrain in the CMA’s analysis of the failures in today’s placement market is reference to what would happen "if this market were functioning well…..". It is not considered, however, that this particular market can never function well, because of its inherent market structure as a monopsony. We do not believe this market can be made to function well as a market, let alone as a system for ensuring the best care for all children."
Read Children England's full response to the final report of the CMA in its study of children's social care.
Welcome to our newest member: CAP UK
Please join us in welcoming to the Children England membership CAP UK. CAP stands for child assault prevention, and they describe their work:
"The Child Assault Prevention project focuses on reducing all children's vulnerability to abuse. We do this by running whole school community workshops. Parents are encouraged to attend a session that increases their knowledge and skills around prevention of child abuse. School staff are trained to ensure that they are all confident to recognise and deal with abuse appropriately and the children then participate in a whole class workshop. We work with primary school children from the age of 4 to 11 but have also a Young People’s Programme delivered to Year 8 students." We look forward to welcoming staff from CAP UK at our upcoming members forums.
Parliamentary News and Publications
Final report of the CMA into children's social care
The Competition and Markets Authority has published its second and final report into the state of the market in children's social care. It reiterates its concerns about high levels of profit being made, particularly in residential care, and the threat to children posed by the risk of disorderly market exit by large providers who are carrying a lot of debt. It also notes the lack of influence for local authorities in shaping the market and ensuring it meets children's needs. The CMA's recommendations include:
The Association of Directors of Children's Services has expressed its disappointment that the CMA does not recommend a cap on placement prices.
- Establishment of a minimum level of activity that must be carried out collectively, including an appropriate degree of activity in forecasting, market shaping and procurement.
- The creation of regional bodies to carry out collective market shaping and procurement activities, with each local authority required to participate in one of them.
- Creation of a national oversight structure to ensure that each body is carrying out its functions to the appropriate level.
- The UK Government should support the increase in wider-than-local activity by funding collective bodies to trial different market shaping and procurement techniques and improving understanding of what market shaping and procurement models work well.
- A thorough review of regulation relating to the provision of placements, during which protecting the safety and wellbeing of children must be the overriding aim, but also considering whether specific regulations are unnecessarily restricting the effective provision of placements.
- The UK Government should consider removing any distinction, for the purposes of the planning regime, between small children’s homes and domestic dwelling houses.
- There should be an annual assessment of the state of the workforce to provide a clear overview of staffing pressures and concerns, and to recommend measures to address bottlenecks. This would be similar in scope to the CQC’s annual State of Care review in England
- The creation of an appropriate statutory oversight regime that is capable of assessing the financial health of the most difficult to replace providers of children’s homes and warning placing authorities if a failure is likely.
New scheme: Homes for Ukraine
A new scheme to enable households in the UK to take in Ukrainians seeking refuge here has been launched by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Whilst some details are not yet clear, confirmed aspects include:
Questions remain about how local authorities will be supported to deliver the wrap-around care Ukrainian refugees will need, and how children will be safeguarded. You can read MPs raising questions to the scheme's lead minister Michael Gove yesterday online.
- There will be no cap on the numbers of Ukrainian people that can be hosted through the scheme
- Host / sponsor households will receive a 'thank you' of £350 per month
- Sponsors will be expected to accommodate their matched Ukrainian nationals for a minimum of six months
- Local authorities will receive £10,000 per Ukrainian person hosted in their area
- Initially, UK hosts can invite Ukrainians whom they have nominated (who do not need to have family in the UK), but eventually government and the voluntary sector will be involved in matching households to each other
- Both UK and Ukrainian families will go through security checks
Statistics: Education, children's social care and offending
The Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice have released statistics for the education and children’s social care background of children who had been cautioned or sentenced for an offence. Amongst many detailed findings,
Education Secretary addresses school leaders
- 23% of those that had ever been suspended were also cautioned or sentenced for an offence
- 59% of children that had ever been permanently excluded were also cautioned or sentenced for an offence
- 80% of those who had been cautioned or sentenced for an offence, and 87% of those cautioned or sentenced for a serious violence offence, had been recorded as ever having SEN
- 32% of those cautioned or sentenced for an offence, and 38% of children cautioned or sentenced for a serious violence offence, were a child in need. 60% of those whose offending had been prolific had been a child in need.
Nadhim Zahawi used a speech to the conference of the Association of School and College Leaders to:
Education Committee review of the catch-up programme
- Confirm that the Department for Education is planning capacity for 100,000 Ukrainian children to take up school places in the UK
- Acknowledge the educational attainment gap that existed even before the pandemic
- Reiterate government's levelling up ambition that 90% of children will achieve expected standards of literacy and numeracy on leaving primary school
- Plans to introduce a new relocation premium to help with visas and other expenses for teachers and trainees moving here from abroad
- Confirmation that government will establish Oak National Academy as a new arms-length curriculum body, working independently of government and collaboratively with the sector
- Confirm the immediate transfer of up to £65 million into School Led Tutoring from the other two tutoring routes, following feedback on schools' preferences
- Reiterate elements of what will be in the upcoming schools White Paper, including plans to improve under-performing Academy Trusts
The Education Select Committee has published its review of the government's programme to help children recover learning lost during the pandemic. It concludes that 'current plans do not go far enough' and recommends:
Lords Committee proposes we become a 'Wellbeing State'
- Ending the spaghetti junction of funding and directing funding to schools using existing mechanisms for identifying disadvantage, such as pupil premium eligibility and the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index, to ensure schools in the most disadvantaged regions receive more.
- Holding the National Tutoring Programme to account
- Giving children more time in school to boost their wellbeing
- Ensure a mental health lead in every school, and a mental health and wellbeing assessment for every child
In its report on how the country can become resilient to living with Covid, the Lords Covid-19 Committee proposes that in making policy decisions relating to the pandemic, including addressing the increased mental health needs of many in the population, the best criterion is 'the wellbeing of the people.' The Committee writes: "The purpose of the Wellbeing State would be to secure the wellbeing of all its citizens, and tackle those inequalities that hold back specific groups and communities. The Wellbeing State would move Government away from a focus on economic growth as a goal in and of itself, to a focus on sustainable economic growth as an important contributing factor to individual and societal wellbeing."
Sector News and Publications
Ask MPs to support Amendment 27 to the Nationality and Borders Bill: stable futures for trafficked children
With your support ECPAT UK has continued to make the case that trafficked children need protection, support and stability to recover from abuse, and that these protections should be included in the Nationality and Borders Bill. The House of Lords listened and voted against government proposals, arguing instead that the Bill should include more protection for children. In the coming weeks, MPs will vote again and could leave trafficked children unprotected and in limbo, unable to continue with their lives or move past trauma.
The House of Lords’ Amendment 27 will protect child victims of trafficking and exploitation by exempting them from the most damaging parts of the Bill and by ensuring that all decisions about them are made in line with their best interests, including decisions about granting leave to remain in the UK. ECPAT UK has a refreshed Stable Futures letter supporters can send to their MP calling on them to support Amendment 27, and also social media templates and images for sharing here if you can support the campaign.
ECPAT calls for Europe to protect Ukrainian children from war
With between 4 and 7 million people displaced by the invasion of Ukraine, and at least 36 children killed, ECPAT UK and its sister organisations across Europe have issued a statement calling on governments, the European Commission and humanitarian missions to "take immediate action to quickly identify and place unaccompanied children in safe, child-friendly, and supervised settings, with full access to child protection, health, education and psycho-social services, including the immediate appointment of a guardian, and quick reestablishment of contact with their parents, and other caregivers."
Resources to support education for Ukrainian children arriving in the UK
The Bell Foundation has translated its parental guidance on ‘Helping Children Learn’ and ‘About the English Education System’ into Ukrainian (as well as 21 other languages) – they are now available on its website. The Foundation also has a page on ‘Welcoming Refugee and Asylum Seeking Learners’ which includes a downloadable flyer with links to lots of sources of information and guidance.
MPs must reject cruel and unscientific age tests for asylum seekers
"A recent investigation by The Independent raised the alarm over the Home Office’s growing involvement in age assessments, which are more commonly carried out by local councils and with the support of independent agencies like ours, the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS). It found that hundreds of young people were being placed in adult hotels and only moved to children’s services when charities intervened. But rather than stepping back, the Home Office is intent on strengthening its role in age assessments." For a very accessible explanation of how government is trying to change age assessment of unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the UK, and the impacts on children, read the full blog by our colleagues at NYAS on the openDemocracy website.
A new space for young people with autism
The Ambitious Youth Network, which has been funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the National Lottery Community Fund, will offer autistic young people aged 16 to 25 a safe and moderated online space to help them understand their autistic identity and reduce isolation and loneliness that many feel.
Young people will be able to take part in peer support sessions, share experiences and find volunteering, work experience and employment opportunities. There will also be opportunities for them to work together and campaign for change.
Single parents and employment after the pandemic
Gingerbread has published an interim report on the findings of its research into the experiences and challenges of single parents who lost their job during the pandemic and are seeking work. Findings include:
- Single parents are almost twice as likely to be unemployed and underemployed, compared with couple parents. Long term (a year or more) unemployment has increased for single parents since the pandemic.
- Single parent’s experiences of work during the pandemic were more precarious because they were more likely to have been furloughed and working in shut down sectors.
- The reasons for leaving work differed to other groups, including higher rates of compulsory redundancy, leaving work due to additional challenges of trying to hold down a job and care on their own, reduced hours of work that could make a job financially unsustainable and mental health impacts of the pandemic.
- The majority of single parents described a lack of bespoke support from the jobcentre.
- Childcare costs and availability were a barrier to single parents re-entering work. This is combined with a decline in informal childcare from older relatives after the pandemic. There was a lack of flexible jobs on offer with tough competition for roles during school hours.
- Amongst the single parents who were interviewed only a handful had been referred to back to work schemes including Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) and Restart. Those that had been on the schemes were positive but there was a lack of awareness about these schemes for single parents.
SMK guide to building solidarity into action for social change
The Sheila McKechnie Foundation has published a new guide, It’s All About Power. It’s a challenge and invitation to the social sector – to embrace a new way of thinking about power and take action to build solidarity in social change. SMK hopes it will help start the conversations needed to shift the way we all think, work and campaign. It's a product of The Power Project, a two-year inquiry, hosted by SMK, into civil society, social change and first-hand (or ‘lived’) experience of poverty and inequalities. Despite a genuine desire in the sector to create more equitable ways of working, many attempts are experienced as tokenistic or even exploitative. People with first-hand experience are rejecting the social sector as a place through which to seek change, which is a loss for all of us because it reduces the sector's legitimacy and our collective strength. SMK's new report aims to help people work together in active solidarity to achieve change. See below for events learn more about this resource.
DSC urges Select Committee to scrutinise candidate for Chair of Charity Commission
The Directory for Social Change has written to Julian Knight MP, Chair of the Digital, Media, Culture and Sport Committee that will question the government's preferred candidate for Chair of the Charity Commission, Orlando Fraser, prior to his formal appointment. DSC asks the Committee specifically to scrutinise:
- Mr Fraser's role in the Cage / Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT) case, where the Commission incorrectly tried to ‘fetter the discretion’ of trustees of JRCT in their duties;
- His role in the Commission’s flawed EU Referendum guidance, which was so poor it had to be withdrawn and reissued;
- His long-standing links to the Conservative party, following a series of appointees with similar political connections.
Still open: A leadership opportunity for young people with experience of the youth justice system
The Young Advocates project, whose latest report we shared with you last week, is recruiting new young people aged 14-20 with youth justice experience to become Advocates. Experience could include: school exclusion and alternative education, stop and search, arrest, courts, Youth Offending Teams, and youth custody such as Secure Training Centres or Young Offenders Institutions. Leaders Unlocked and the Youth Justice Alliance who run the project will train and support young people to:
It's a great opportunity to develop skills, represent young people and influence decision-makers. Find out more from Amania@leaders-unlocked.org or fill in the application form online. The deadline for applications is March 31st.
- Become ‘Young Advocates’ for youth justice improvement
- Comment on important policy topics
- Collaborate with professionals
- Have face-to-face conversations about the youth justice system with other young people with similar experiences
- Influence policy and positive change in the system
At United Response
Public Affairs and Policy Officer
Contract: Full time (35hr p/w) (open to flexible/part time)
Location: Homebased with travel
Salary: £28,000 plus working from home allowance
Deadline: 28th March 2022
Ali Gunn, Public Affairs and Policy Lead at United Response, is growing her team and is on the lookout for a brilliant Public Affairs and Policy Officer to help support their campaigning for equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities, autism and mental health needs. The role includes:
Contact Ali for an informal chat about the job.
- Research and analyse issues relevant to United Response’s policy priorities and work with the Public Affairs and Policy Lead to develop influencing strategies
- Using co-design and co-production approaches so the people we support and their families are an integral part of the department’s activity
- Monitor parliamentary activity for opportunities to influence decision-making and promote the voice of people we support
- Collaborate with the Press and Media Officer on opportunities for thought leadership, raise public awareness and share our policy positions in the media
Office of the Children's Commissioner for Jersey
Secondment opportunity Case Work Office of the Children’s Commissioner Jersey
Contract: 29th April 2022 until 29th April 2023
Hours: Full time, 37 hours a week
Salary £51,441 Plus housing allowance of £500 per month and £1,500 per annum for travel
The primary role will be delivering the Commissioner for Children and Young People (Jersey) Law 2019 namely:
- Article 18 Assistance in relation to complaints
- Article 19 Power to bring or intervene in legal proceedings
- Article 20 Assistance in relation to legal proceedings
The postholder will also inform the evidence, communications and policy functions of the Children’s Commissioner, identifying issues and trends, identifying solutions and/or service developments and providing practice-based expert advice to policy staff.
We would like to enhance our role in strategic litigation, electing and bringing cases to the Royal Court with the goal of creating broader changes in Jersey for children. Therefore, expertise and experience in strategic litigation, complaints and investigations in a child human rights context is desirable. The Commissioner contracts with local lawyers (known as advocates in Jersey) and the post holder will have regular meetings with our lawyers to help develop our strategic litigation function.
For an informal chat please make contact with Deborah at
Events, training and consultancy services
Power Project: join the conversation about power and solidarity in social change
Lunchtime briefing on the project and the new report It's All About Power
Date: Wednesday 30th March 2022
Time: 1pm - 2pm
Workshop to explore the ideas in It's All About Power and what it means to put them into practice
Date: Tuesday 19th April 2022
Time: 10am - 1pm
From Healthcare Conferences UK
Preventing Suicide in Young People & Children
Date: Tuesday 26th April 2022
This fifth National conference focuses on Saving Young Lives – Preventing Suicide in Children and Young People. Through national updates, case studies from multi-agency settings and lived experience insight, this conference will look at progress being made and what needs to change to improve resilience, wellbeing, mental health support and effectively prevent suicide in children and young people. The conference will use case studies to demonstrate interventions that work in health, schools, universities and multi-agency settings. The conference will examine implementation of the self harm and suicide prevention competence framework for children and young people and will also discuss offering tailored support to families bereaved by suicide in line with the NICE recommendations.
Readers of Children England News can get a 20% discount with code hcuk20CHE
Date: 11th - 12th May 2022
This event will provide the latest information and guidance on recommended safeguarding practices. Key topics include: safeguarding in sport; the impact of physical punishment on children; and understanding the Online Safety Bill. All sessions will be available on-demand for four weeks after the event.
Resources for children, families and practitioners during Coronavirus
Advice from children and young people themselves
We're delighted to be able to share with you six E-zines produced by children and young people involved with Brighton's Safety Net. They include activities, advice and information - straight from young people themselves. They're pretty useful if you're an adult too!
Safety Net also produce a newsletter for parents and carers called Safety Rocks - here is Spring '21 edition.
Direct support for children and young people and their families
Support with service delivery and management
- For social workers from BASW: COVID-19 updates – find out more about vaccinations, how to keep yourself and others safe and best practice.
- Digital Boost - free digital support for small businesses and charities
Finance and commissioning information
Support for staff
Children England's news bulletin is produced weekly and is designed to keep you up to date with the latest developments in children and families policy.
If you or your organisation have new research, campaigns or policy development in children and families work that you'd like us to share, send us the details and we'll include it in Children England News.