Services designed to keep families together have been “decimated” by government cuts, MPs heard this week.
The Education Select Committee is currently in the middle of an inquiry into possible social work reforms. On Wednesday they heard testimony from a number of experts from within the sector, who blamed government cuts to services for the rise in the number of children entering the child protection system. This occurs when there are concerns that a child may be the victim of abuse or neglect.
Kingston University social work professor Ray Jones told the Committee that “family support services are being decimated at the moment, children’s centres are closing [and] funding for voluntary organisations like Home Start is being turned off”. Home Start is a national charity which aims to help parents create a better home life for their children.
Funding cuts were “threatening for families and children” and “demoralising for social workers”, he claimed.
Roy Perry is the chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board. Speaking before the committee, he said that there was a “serious shortage of resources” in early intervention services. These allow local authorities to take steps to ensure a child’s safety before they are in actual danger.
Funding for such services was vital because “prevention is clearly better than cure” when it comes to child safety, Mr Perry insisted.
Last March, 49,700 children had been made subjects of child protection plans, Children & Young People Now reports. This represents a 2.9 per cent increase from the previous year and a 27.1 per cent rise since 2010.