Independent Review of Children’s Social Care: CFAB Response to Final Report

Today the Final Report of the Independent Review of Children's Social Care Review has been published. Since the Review began in early 2021, CFAB has been engaging the review at every stage – writing letters, submitting evidence and offering our expertise to the Panel - to explore international kinship care as an option for Looked After Children.

The Review was commissioned by the Government and described as a once in a generation opportunity to transform the children’s social care system and provide children with loving, safe and stable families.

We welcome the Report’s focus on rebalancing children’s social care away from crisis intervention and more towards preventative action.  We endorse the recommendation to make a substantial investment to support children to stay with their families.  In particular, we whole-heartedly approve of the recommendations that local authorities should make a financial allowance paid at the same rate as their fostering allowance available for Special Guardians and kinship carers, that legal aid should be provided in a range of circumstances and that training should be facilitated for all kinship carers.  

While we are pleased to see the acknowledgements of the importance of kinship care in the final report, it is disappointing that this has been limited to UK-based kinship carers. Promoting kinship arrangements that extend across borders is noticeably absent, as is any attempt to tackle the gaps in guidance for how local authorities can explore international kinship placements as one of the alternatives to having children in care.

CFAB has continuously called for the Review to explore options for long-term care for Looked After Children who have family members abroad – which we estimate to be around 18,500. With one in three children in England born to a foreign-born parent, the effects of globalisation on the social care system must not be underestimated.  Increasing the possibility and quality of kinship arrangements that extend across international borders is necessary for a care system which values the importance of kinship carer.

CFAB offered our expertise to the Review and suggested the Department of Education creates guidance for local authorities to help them find family members across borders for children who would otherwise be in care. We know that many local authorities simply have no idea how to involve family members across national borders - CFAB’s research found that half of local authorities which responded to our research did not explore any family members abroad between 2015 and 2017.  If a new legal definition of kinship care is to be developed, as recommended by the Report, it would be a fundamental deprivation of child rights if international kinship carers were not included.

We continue to extend our offer to the Department of Education to assist them in developing a good practice guide for local authorities on international kinship care placements.