An independent care review in England - the situation so far

The Westminster Government committed to an independent care review in England at the end of 2019. As the UK’s leading fostering charity representing tens of thousands of foster carers and hundreds of fostering services, we have been working with other organisations in the sector as well as care experienced people to influence the process and ensure it meets the needs of those working in, or with lived experience of, the care system.

A review, in general terms, should be a formal assessment with the intention of instituting change. To make sure it is impartial, and therefore generates an accurate reflection of the current system under review, it should be independent (of government, in this case), carried out by someone with expert knowledge and incorporate the voices of people with lived experience of the topic/area under review.

Over the past few years the Westminster Government have reviewed different parts of the care system in England, with differing levels of success. In Scotland a holistic review of the care system has just finished. It set out to be different to previous reviews in its methods and approach to get to the heart of what needs to change to make the care system the best it can be for those children and families in contact with it. This was achieved this by speaking with thousands of care experienced people and people in the social care workforce. It took three years to collate all the evidence and write recommendations. The plan to implement these recommendations is still forthcoming. We published our thoughts about this when the Scottish reports were first released.

So, given the context, what does this mean for the latest care review in England and what it should it look like?

Gavin Williamson, secretary of state of education, has promised that the review is to be independent, however, more details about the review’s shape and scope have yet to be revealed. When it will be delivered and by whom is still out for questioning.

We think the review needs to:

  • have appropriate time and funding to make sure the review is all encompassing and of a high standard. Its recommendations must have spending implications such that they can properly address the current issues in the care system;
  • be based on existing evidence and be of a high standard to add to the evidence base surrounding children’s social care; • be wide in scope to fully consider the multitude of issues involved in the care system (from benefits to mental health provisions, for example);
  • be independent of Government;
  • have Government commitment to complete the review and implement its recommendations.


Read our full briefing which we sent to Gavin Williamson and the new children’s minister, Vicky Ford, here.

We have also teamed up with a number of organisations in the sector and have agreed a set of principles for the review. These principles have the sole aim of working together to deliver a meaningful review of the care system. They were sent to various ministers with an open letter and were co-signed by 27 organisations across the sector, including The Fostering Network.

Additionally, as co-chairs of the alliance for children in care and care leavers, we will use this collective to make sure our voices are heard in the planning of this review.

Follow our campaigns page @tfn_campaigns for the latest care review England news.

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