So what are the national parties pledging to do about adoption, social work etc
We have made progress in reforming our adoption system, but there is more to do.
We will introduce regional adoption agencies, working across local authority boundaries to match children with the best parents for them.
We will continue to raise the quality of children’s social work, by expanding training programmes, such as Frontline, and creating new opportunities to develop the next generation of leaders in the field.
We will freeze working age benefits for two years from April 2016, with exemptions for disability and pensioner benefits – as at present – as well as maternity allowance, statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay and statutory sick pay.
We will increase the proportion of the mental health budget that is spent on children, and make sure that teachers have training so they can identify problems early and link children up with support.
We will double the current two weeks of paternity leave to four weeks, and increase the amount of paternity pay from £140 to more than £260 a week.
We will promote the care and educational achievement of our most vulnerable children and we will introduce mandatory reporting of child abuse.
We will increase support for children in kinship (family and friends) care and their families, a group too often overlooked and undervalued.
We will continue to support Frontline and its innovative approach to training social workers, and teachers will receive better training for working with children with special educational needs and disabilities.
Liberal Democrats have long championed early intervention to prevent problems before they arise, but we also need to make sure we equip social workers with the skills to address these complex issues and ensure children’s safety. Where children do have to be taken into care we must make sure they find a loving home with as little disruption and instability as possible. We have done much in Government to be proud of in helping children in care and to improve social work, but we can still go further.
• Continue to invest in early intervention, further expanding the Troubled Families Programme and building on the work of the Early Intervention Foundation to spread evidence of what works.
• Expect Local Authorities to set out a clear purpose for the care system: to promote emotional wellbeing and resilience, provide a secure base on which children can be supported in their development and provide individually tailored help with recovery.
• Raise the quality and profile of children’s social work, continuing and expanding the Frontline programme – which is fast-tracking the brightest and best into the profession – to at least 300 graduate recruits each year.
• Tackle delay and instability in foster care, with better support and training for foster carers, including on mental health issues.
• Continue to make it easier for children in care to find a loving home, through the national Adoption Register and the new national gateway for adoption, a first point of contact for potential adopters.
• Prevent looked after children and young people being drawn into the criminal justice system unnecessarily by promoting restorative justice.
UKIP will reform the care system so the 68,000 children in care in the UK (including 3,600 under the age of one) can find stability through fostering and adoption in a faster, more efficient way. We will extend the provisions of the Children and Families Act 2014, which gives children in care the choice to stay with their foster families until they turn 21, to children in homes, so they too have the same opportunity.
We will also review the Family Court system, with the intention of implementing independent lay oversight of Family Courts, to ensure that necessary confidentiality does not prevent proper scrutiny in this and all areas of Family Law.
A misplaced sensitivity to issues of race and religion, combined with fear, has been shown to have stopped many investigations into the abuse of children. There is also concern among the public at rising levels of ‘forced’ adoptions. Some of those charged with protecting children in care are letting serious cases of abuse and maltreatment slip through the net. Our children’s wellbeing lags behind many of our European neighbours and we are seeing alarming rates of self-harm and poor mental health.
Ensure that the Uk’s child protection systems are effective at tackling child neglect and abuse early on, including changing the law so that emotion abuse is treated on a par with physical abuse and giving the police and child protection professional clear guidance to help them work efficiently.