Received from: NAPO
Congress notes the record number of appearances before the family courts and the unparalleled numbers of children in care whilst the agencies tasked with supporting these vulnerable children and families are doing so on standstill budgets.
Research from the Nuffield Foundation and Family Rights Group found a £2bn shortfall across children’s social care services. The same research highlights:
i. children in the system having a sense of the crisis
ii. professionals frustrated, overwhelmed and overstretched – Napo’s own research shows members choosing to work reduced hours to manage their
caseloads in their days off
iii. a culture of blame, shame and fear permeating the system.
Austerity savings are false economies – legal aid cuts prevent or delay access to solicitors, resulting in delayed mediation and increased court costs from litigants in person; cuts to children’s centres mean less access to information for vulnerable children and parents; cuts to benefits often trigger or worsen a family crisis. Tragically, children in care are far more likely to re-emerge in the criminal justice system. These wider social costs don’t feature on treasury spreadsheets.
Congress calls on the General Council to:
a. support campaigns for a fairer funding settlement for vulnerable children and families
b. lobby for cross government strategic planning and shared responsibility to resolve the crisis
c. lobby for adequate funding – including guaranteed staffing levels and pay, and training and support for initiatives to incentivise recruitment and retention
across all parts of the social work profession.