Children’s Social Care Review

Most of you will all be aware of the ongoing Independent Review of Children’s Social Care currently taking place under the chairmanship of Josh MacAlister. ( In the March Newsletter I reported that IRCT had joined with others from the Children’s Alliance Group through a letter to the Minister for Education regarding the way in which the review had been set up and the limited timescale being allowed to undertake what is supposed to be “the opportunity of a generation” to make significant changes to the system and improve social care for the most vulnerable children and young people in our society. Despite our reservations about the structure, remit, independence and timescale of the review, IRCT decided to make representations to the Review Panel in as constructive a manner as possible.     

The IRCT believes it can use its knowledge base and broad experience to make a valuable contribution to the government review of children’s social care and welcomes the opportunity to put forward constructive proposals for improving the current system. 

We know that children who come into the care system have generally had a poor start in life and are amongst the most vulnerable individuals in our communities. Most will have suffered multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). The research base for the longterm effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences is striking and strong. The published research evidence, notably Felitti et al (1998) in the USA and Bellis et al (2014) in the UK, reminds us of the range of experiences which can have an adverse effect on the health and wellbeing of our children, young people, families and adults for a lifetime. Single experiences can have an adverse impact on the child’s health and wellbeing but multiple experiences can have a cumulative damaging impact which can compromise the child’s prospects of happiness and success for the entirety of their life unless something is done to address this prospect. We know that children in the care system often have poor educational outcomes, difficulties in making solid trusting relationships with others and disproportionate involvement with the criminal justice system. 

Although some children overcome early disadvantages and go on to live successful and happy lives many do not and IRCT believes that one important reason looked after children have poorer outcomes is that they have unaddressed trauma. IRCT believes that the proper recognition of the role of trauma in the lives of children in care is essential to provide better outcomes for them. We have argued that a formal objective of the care system should be to assist children to recover from the trauma they have experienced historically and which will have been compounded further by their removal from their familiar home into the care system.

Children and young people can recover from trauma through relationships with trusted adults who are trained, supported and willing and able to hold the child in mind. All services should be “trauma informed”. It is the view of the IRCT that a central aim of the care system should be to organize services in such a way so as to ensure that all children have the best chance to recover from trauma. Furthermore we argue that this aim should be set out in primary legislation in line with Article 39 of the United Nations Rights of the Child.

You can read both the submissions we have made to the Review Panel by clicking on the dated links below:

April 2021 – Evidence for the Independent Review of Childrens Social Care

August 2021 – Response to the Case for Change

We have had one discussion with members of the Review Panel to further expand on our ideas and to make suggestions for change and have joined in some of the online discussions that have been taking place. There is still considerable disquiet from many about the review and you can read about these concerns  by going to the following link Home – Care Review Watch Alliance


Do please take the time to look at our submissions and the concerns about the process being shared by the Care Review Watch Alliance. If you have not made a submission on behalf of your organisation then do try to get involved.