Last week in Parliament, Education Committee member, Lucy Allan questioned the Children and Families Minister, Nadhim Zahawi MP as part of an accountability hearing.
The Education Committee holds regular hearings with the Secretary of State for Education and other key figures directly accountable to Parliament. This forms part of the Committee’s ongoing scrutiny of the Department for Education and its associated public bodies.
During the session, Telford’s MP raised her concerns with the Minister about the increasing number of children being taken into care and asked what the Department for Education is doing to reduce the number and ways to tackle it.
The MP also focused on the current problem of the lack of resource going towards early intervention to ensure that children on the fringes of care are able to remain with their family. She highlighted the former words of the Education Committee Chair who said, “In some places, the pressure on children’s services is so acute it is leaving social workers feeling that the only tool available to them to keep a child safe is to remove them from their family.”
Lucy Allan also focused on life chances and outcomes for care leavers and mental health assessments for children going into the care system and the rolling out of pilots before widening this initiative across the country.
Responding the Minister Zahawi said:
“These kids are our responsibility….I must be able to do better for them. That is the drive in my Department. It is not just education; it is apprenticeships and jobs.
“I can assure you that I am working with real focus. As corporate parents, we cannot behave in a way where we just manage these kids. I am determined to do better for them.
“We are working with local authorities on the innovation programme. About £200 million has been spent on what really does work to deliver the right outcomes.”
Commenting after the session, Lucy Allan said:
“It is important for the Minister to understand the value of early intervention and targeting resource at families with children on the edge of care to keep them together.
“Statutory interventions should only ever be used as a last resort and that is why it is important for the Department to direct its focus on delivering initiatives which help families early on.”