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Children in Care

Question for Department for Education

UIN 125335, tabled on 18 February 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of access for families to (a) preventative services and (b) support before children enter the care system.

Answered on

28 February 2022

The ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018’ statutory guidance makes clear that early help services should form part of a continuum of help in local areas that can respond to the needs of children and families.

Since April 2015, Supporting Families (previously the Troubled Families Programme) has directly helped over 470,000 vulnerable families make positive changes to their lives, with many thousands more benefitting from services joining up to ensure access to early, coordinated, whole family support.

The evaluation shows the programme is successfully preventing high-cost statutory intervention. For example, it found the proportion of children on the programme going into care reduced by a third.

In the 2021 Autumn Budget, a combined Department for Education, Department of Health and Social Care, and Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities package of £500 million for early help was announced. This includes a £300 million package to transform ‘Start for Life’ services and create a network of family hubs in half of council areas in England, and a £200 million uplift to the Supporting Families programme.

The additional funding for Supporting Families takes the total investment to £695 million over the next 3 years, around a 40% real-terms uplift in funding for the programme by the 2024/25 financial year.

We also have the independent review of children’s social care. The review will look at the whole system of support, safeguarding, protection and care, and the child’s journey into and out of that system, including relevant aspects of preventative services provided as part of early help. This will include children throughout their interaction with children’s social care, from referral, child in need and child protection plans, through to becoming looked after. The review will set out its final recommendations in spring 2022.

We estimate local authorities spent £11.1 billion on children’s services in 2020/21. This includes children's social care, but also early years and children’s centres, youth justice and youth services.