Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Protecting the Vulnerable? Looked after Children and Those with Disabilities and SEN Hit

Victoria Climbie
'Transformation' is the Council's sub-Orwellian speak for cuts. The 'Social Care Transformation' is due to save £1,800,000 and I have been able to find few details about it. However the budget document going to the Executive on Tuesday  says that costs will be reduced in: foster placements, children in residential homes, semi-independent living, payments for adopted children as well as families 'without recourse to public funds'. They also expect to save costs on the Youth Offending Team.

A further  £1,300,000 will be saved through 'rationalisation' of fostering and adoption services and a 'rationalisation' of the safeguarding service through a 'streamlined' child protection conference process. The Young Carers Centre will no longer be funded - a vital support for younger children who are carers to older children or adults in their families.  These children often have to have time off school, take responsibility far beyond their years, and probably save other services thousands of pounds. There will also be reductions in the Crisis Intervention Service.

We were told that there would be no cuts in 'front-line' services - nothing could be more front-line than the services above. In a borough that in the past has been no stranger to scandals over inadequate child protection LINK this is just storing up problems for the future.

The budget also impacts on children with Disabilities and SEN. The valued Easter holiday play schemes will be axed. Alongside the cuts in children centres there will be a reduction in Special Educational Needs support for early years.  What many regard as an already under-staffed Education Psychology Service will be decreased further and a whacking £108,000 charge for non-statutory services will be shifted to schools.

All this will delay help for children most in need and add extra pressures on school staff and school budgets. Again the most vulnerable are being hit.

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