Jessica Luper 10 July 2015

Impact of council cuts 'not yet understood', warns care president

Children's care directors have issued a stark warning that the full impact of council cuts will take as long as three years to understand.

Alison O’Sullivan, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), gave an address yesterday in which she warned that the impact of recent cuts is ‘a looming crisis’ of which the implications have yet to be realised.

Suggesting a lack of foresight within the Government could cause greater long-term damage, O’Sullivan pointed out the delicate balance between investing in early help and the potential cost of late intervention.

‘I have a deep concern that the full impact of recent cuts to local authority funding are not yet well understood. Many of the changes being made are complex to implement and take time. The impact will not wash through the system for another one, two or three years. And at the same time further cuts will need to be made. There is a looming crisis in relation to our ability to keep a balance in the system between investment in early help and the costs of late intervention. Government needs to monitor this very closely and consider if steps will need to be taken to ensure we do not do irreversible damage to our ability to prevent serious harm occurring,’ she said.

The president also queried current care inspection frameworks, branding the current system ‘broken', 'discredited' and 'burdensome' and warned it ‘disproportionately consumes the resources of both the inspectors and the inspected’.

‘We must not create yet another later of inspection adding to the already unreasonable burden. Local authorities simply cannot cope with any more,’ O’Sullivan said.

Calling for greater support and compassion for those leaving care, O’Sullivan said: ‘Too often the most vulnerable of our care leavers, for that is what they are, are leaving residential care earlier than is right for them. And I firmly believe that we need the flexibility to continue to support young people for longer and in doing so we will equip them better for their future lives and try to reverse some of the poor outcomes that our care leavers experience. This is a case of us all finding a way to do the right thing, as any “good parent” would.’

Of her own role and that of the other directors, O’Sullivan made clear her feelings of great responsibility within her position, telling other service members: ‘The very nature of the role is more than just an administrative detail. When we get up in the morning and when we go to bed at night we feel the responsibility. It lives with us.’

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