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Published, 4 July 2016

Sir Martin Narey’s independent review of children’s residential care and the Government's response

The independent review of residential child care in England commissioned by the Prime Minister in October 2015, is now published.

The report shows that children's homes are often seen by social workers as the 'last resort'. However, there is little to support the view that reducing the use of children's homes is better for the young people, and is often misunderstood.

Highlights include:

  • The Department for Education and the Home Office should urge police and local authorities to apply a restorative justice approach in dealing with children’s unacceptable behaviour
  • The report is positive about residential care, and clear that it should be considered as the first option for some children, not the last resort.
  • Pushes back on the ‘smaller is better’ idea, arguing that (on the basis of inspection reports) bigger homes deliver are found to be just as good as smaller homes
  • Although Scotland will require staff in children’s homes to be educated to degree level (Level 9), England should not follow that example
  • Rejects the idea of ‘Staying Put’ in residential care, in favour of ‘Staying Close’
  • Provides further detail about the establishment of the independent What Works Centre (WWC) for Children’s Social Care in England, which was announced back in January

The Government has published its children's social care policy paper, Putting Children First, in response. Some actions they will take forward immediately include:

  • The Innovation Programme will be used to test innovative ways in which residential care could be used in a more dynamic and creative way to support children and to link seamlessly with other care placements and with other services
  • Introducing Staying Close for those leaving residential care – similar to the Staying Put arrangements which exist for children in foster care.
  • They'll invite local authorities to come together to bid through a new round of Innovation Programme funding, to pilot new larger scale, regional commissioning arrangements that will test the options for wider placement choice and better outcomes for children
  • Undertaking a national stocktake of foster care to understand current provision, how needs are matched with skills, where this works really well, and what can be learned nationally from good practice
  • Clarify the steps that residential care workers can take to protect children, as any good parent would

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