Yesterday the LGA published a report noting children’s social care costs are rocketing, with a 1,000% increase in the cost of care for society’s most vulnerable children requiring complex care. Shaw Trust knows that the children’s care system is broken. In England we have seen the number of complex cases and specialist requirements for children in care grow to 82,170, more than 4,000 additional children since the pandemic.
But – in Somerset our partnership led by Somerset Council and the NHS in Somerset is driving a new approach to support the county’s most complex looked-after children. An approach that is child-centred, trauma-informed, delivering results and saving the taxpayers money.
We have collaborated with Somerset Council and the NHS to reimagine systems and processes from a child’s point of view ensuring their home life, health and education are integrated – removing the financially and emotionally costly short-term approach to placements. Providing stability for our children.
We are now entering year two of our ten-year partnership, and we have successfully opened five homes for children with a further two in progress, recruited high needs foster carers and a specialist education team.
And at a time of spiralling costs, we have saved the residents of Somerset £2.1m in health, education and placement costs in year two alone.
But it is the long-term benefits to children’s lives, now and in the future, that will determine whether this project is a success. We know how challenging early experiences impact people’s entire lives – whether because they turn away from education, lack a trusted adult presence or lose their sense of worth.
Supporting our most complex and vulnerable young people shouldn’t only make headlines because of the costs of providing placements. It should offer children a future so they become the adults they have the potential to be.