Louise Tickle recently wrote a thoughtful and insightful piece in the Guardian about child protection and adoption.
She is absolutely right to draw attention to the impact of high caseloads and to point out the effects of frequent changes of social worker on the quality of social work practice in child protection and adoption. And she is absolutely right to bemoan the failure by government to address the funding gap for children’s social care.
I also thought that she made a telling point about the recent ministerial reshuffle, noting – as I had done a few days earlier – that the post of children’s ‘minister’ appears to have been downgraded to that of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, an office of which one incumbent (in Macmillan's 1957–1963 Conservative government) is said to have commented: "No one who hasn't been a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State has any conception of how unimportant a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State is."
I don’t understand why the children’s services trade press and other significant commentators have not made more of this worrying relegation of the priority of children’s services.
Talking of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, it is hard today to miss in the media accounts of his embarrassing attendance at the by-now infamous Presidents Club Charity Dinner.
What I find most depressing about this story is not the allegations about the behaviour of some of those who attended the event, shocking though those are.
Rather it is the fact that the British establishment now seems to believe that it is acceptable to fund essential children’s services (such as Great Ormond’s Street children’s hospital) by relying on very rich men, and only very rich men, attending lavish social events at which many of them appear intent on behaving badly.
I may be old fashioned but I can’t see what was wrong with raising sufficient money through taxation.