Leading children’s charities outline fundamental changes to reform children’s social care services
A new report published today by a group of local leading charities says that early intervention and listening to the voices of children and young people should be at the heart of children’s social care services.
The Reimagine Children’s Collective brings together Action for Children, Barnardo’s NI, Children in Northern Ireland, Include Youth, Mencap NI, National Children’s Bureau NI, Parenting NI, Save the Children and VOYPIC.
With 2,251 children and young people are waiting for an initial child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) assessment* and 4,000 families waiting for their case to be allocated in social care services, the need is urgent.**
The report, ‘Reimagining Children’s Social Care Services in Northern Ireland’, calls for a fundamental cultural shift that places the voices of children, young people and families at the centre of service provision.
It outlines actions that can be taken now to maximise current resources and capacity while also taking steps to build an infrastructure that adequately serves the needs presenting both now and into the future.
Inspired by a shared ambition for our children, the report highlights the importance and value of the community and voluntary sector in the development, implementation and oversight of future services.
The report outlines a number of priorities and actions including:
The report is in response to the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care Services in Northern Ireland carried out by Professor Ray Jones published earlier this year and now out for consultation from the Department of Health.
Michele Janes, Director of Barnardo’s NI and Chair of the Reimagine Children’s Collective said:
“We are ambitious for our children. We believe that Northern Ireland has the potential to develop and provide world class services to support children, young people and families. The current system for delivering children’s social care services is not working. Now is the time to reimagine how we restructure and reform our children’s social care services and how we can all effectively collaborate to bring about positive and lasting change. The time to act is now.”
Lorna Ballard from Action for Children said:
“As our report makes clear, we need to see a move away from the current crisis-based and protection-orientated services towards a greater focus on early family support. In order to do this, investment is needed to reset and refocus children’s social care services towards practical help and early family support. We recommend that funding for family support is ringfenced to ensure investment in early intervention is prioritised and protected.”
Paula Rodgers from Include Youth added:
“Across Northern Ireland the Community and Voluntary Sector plays an essential role in the delivery of services for children and young people. Unfortunately, underinvestment and funding cuts have inflicted long term damage on these organisations and ultimately on the children that they are trying to support. In order to help address this problem we would like to see longer term funding arrangements put in place which would offer greater stability and certainty to children, young people, their families and the workforce.”
Professor Ray Jones, author of the Independent Review said:
“I welcome the publication of the Reimagine Children’s Collective’s report today. It is clear from the partnership work of the organisations involved that there is support across the sector for real change in how services are structured, planned and delivered.
As organisations working in every community across Northern Ireland, group members see the value of early intervention and prevention, not only benefitting babies, children, young people and their families every day, but also supporting our public services and reduced spending in the long term.
Read the full paper here
You can read the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care Services in Northern Ireland carried out by Professor Ray Jones here
Department of Health’s Consultation here