I agree wholeheartedly with Josh MacAlister’s foreword stating that how we care for our children is nothing short of a reflection of our values as a country, and that when we get it right, children’s social care allows children to flourish. At Your Chapter we already embrace the care review’s five ambitious missions and strive to ensure that our children feel safe, and secure, promote loving relationships, receive a quality education and have a decent home, supporting them to lives in the future where they can find fulfilling work and achieve good health. We also agree with the aspiration of improving standards and professionalisation of the residential children’s home workforce and continue to put our employees at the top of our agenda to ensure the children receive the best possible outcomes.
Children’s home staff are recognised in the review as a crucial part of the children’s social care workforce, which is long overdue. As a strong advocate of our frontline workers, who have been supporting us through the pandemic and beyond, it is imperative that we recognise and appropriately reward the contribution from this body of dedicated individuals.
I have seen first-hand some of the discriminatory practices and inequalities that children in care experience, and so it is pleasing to see the proposal that the UK should be the first country in the world to recognise that care experience should be a protected characteristic; I hope this will go some way in breaking the cycle of disadvantage that these young people can face.
Early intervention and family support are being put back on the table which is extremely reassuring. As a residential care provider, we see the impact that austerity measures have had on the reduction of early family intervention and we therefore welcome this proposed £2bn proposed additional funding to bolster this provision. and will be glad for the opportunity to keep families together wherever possible.
At Your Chapter, we firmly disagree with the implication that there is not a place for private providers in this sector. The needs of our children are complex and require a dedicated team of professionals which includes teachers, care managers, psychologists, and therapists. Oftentimes we require a high number of staff to children ratio, to ensure that they receive adequate support for their needs, and to help them overcome their very challenging circumstances. It has been recognised that the provision of specialist care by private providers can offer support for children with the highest levels of need at a comparable cost to the provision by the public sector and not-for-profit bodies, when all cost factors are taken into account.
We also strongly object to the use of the term ‘profiteering’ and the implication that the thousands of people working across the private sector are not consistently making a positive difference in children’s lives every day, merely because of the way the organisation they work for was founded. It is unfortunate that the report authors chose not to engage in meaningful dialogue or consultation with private sector organisations, given that we represent a significant proportion of the provision across the sector.
Your Chapter intends on helping as many children as possible, accepting children from all over the UK, and giving them the best opportunities for recovery possible. We believe that as long as providers have quality and the interests of the children at their core, supported by a dedicated, values-driven workforce, in tandem with a fair and transparent pricing structure, that private providers can work in a symbiotic partnership with the public sector to secure the best outcomes for the children.
We invest substantially into our services including training, the fabric of the buildings and investing in high-quality talent and education services. As a private provider, we reinvest into growing and improving our services and expanding our specialist provisions. We pride ourselves on positive outcomes and our ability to offer high-quality care for the highest acuity children.
Virginia Perkins, CEO of Your Chapter