Children & Social Work Bill [Lords]

Written evidence submitted by Jay Williams (CSWB 15)

Children and Social Work Bill: power to test different ways of working (new clauses 2 to 9)

Dear Committee,

1. I have fostered children in care for twelve years

2. I am a professionally qualified experienced practitioner/manager of 20 years, in children’s social care sector

3. To date, I have worked approximately 50% in the independent sector and 50% in local authority, public sector

4. I would like to submit the following points for your consideration on this matter.

5. It remains unclear to me (and many others in this sector) what evidence suggests that legislation and regulation prevent innovation to improve the experiences of children.

6. For sure, there is a lot of inefficiency and waste in local authorities. Munroe discussed this issue a few years back, as the unhelpful level of bureaucracy is caused through a lack of ‘joined up’ systems thinking. It is not legislation that causes inefficiency and delay to innovation.

7. Having the ability, will and resource to step away from the ‘conveyer belt of doing’, to create systems based changes would achieve far greater efficiencies and enable further innovation based on research evidence, and the voices of children and young people and stakeholders.

8. In 2015 the care planning regulations for looked after children were amended. One positive change now allows a reduction in the visible presence of the reviews of children in care, and a reduction of minimum social worker visits. This change came about by listening to the experiences of children and young people settled in long term foster placements, who wanted a more ‘normal’ experience. This innovative change did not need to be exempt from any act or regulation.

9. If there is sufficient demand for any other specific change then that can (if sufficiently popular and sensible) become adopted, and if need be, specific statutory guidance will be amended, or a new law introduced, in a safe and democratic fashion.

10. The consultation for these proposed changes has been very limited. I do not understand why it was not more widely publicised and all stakeholders consulted in a timely fashion?

11. Following the Lord’s vote steps to remove a small amount of legislation from possible exemption slightly reduces anxiety. However, continuing to offer exemptions to a raft of other relevant legislation still remains a dangerous and potentially divisive way to proceed.

12. This approach will not address the root causes of delay to innovation in children’s social care. This proposed change focusses upon the symptoms and does not eradicate the causes of the problem.

13. Finally, if this law directly impacted upon my child, I would be less willing to hand out exemptions to working within the law; but instead look to change/amend legislation, regulation or statutory guidance when and where the evidence suggests it would be of most benefit.

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts,

Kind regards

Jay Williams

December 2016


Prepared 5th January 2017