Vulnerable children “Discarded” by BCC, says campaigner

Margo, right, says Vulnerable children have been Discarded by BCC
Margo, right, says Vulnerable children have been Discarded by BCC

Margo Jackson, coordinator of Young Carers Bucks has expressed her deep concerns about the future of the service as it was excluded from the Early Help Review in what she describes as “an extraordinary manner”.

Margo says that “some of the most vulnerable children in Buckinghamshire have been ‘discarded’ by Cabinet Member Warren Whyte.

She said: “Having been removed from the Early Help Review in an extraordinary manner, and despite repeated attempts to see the minutes/notes on how the proposed cuts were decided upon Young Carers are now at risk of having major cuts to funding without having had the opportunity of putting their views forward in fact not being consulted at all.

“When I queried how many families who were receiving support from the Early Help service had been surveyed I was told several times that Focus Groups had been organised and their views formed part of the subsequent ‘findings’.

“In fact after many many weeks of asking this it was admitted that only 3 families-ie 3 people had been invited to a Focus group-I refuse to believe that such significant outcomes to funding would be formulated on such a tiny data free proportion of the users of the service.

“A cover up of incompetence is happening under the watch of the present administration.”

“The Ofsted review report brought the scandal back to the public arena, whether the stonewalling approach of Cllr Whyte and his colleagues will win out again is yet to be seen. And again the vulnerable children of this County will pay the price of disregard and arrogance that they can get away with anything as there is so little opposition when it comes to the vote.”

Warren Whyte, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said:

“We highly value the Young Carers service we have in Buckinghamshire.

"As part of the Early Help consultation process, a decision was taken to remove Young Carers Bucks from the review as this is currently a joint contract with services for adult carers. We recognise that young carers provide valuable early help support however we want to consider the future plans for services for carers across both adults and children’s services together at this stage.

"We can confirm that any change to services for young carers in the future would of course involve full consultation with Young Carers Bucks as well as children, young people and their families.

"The council are currently setting the budget for 2018/19 and we do not anticipate any changes to the Buckinghamshire Young Carers budget for 2018/19 as a result of this.

"We have been speaking with Young Carers Bucks about the service that they provide and how they can best support young carers in the future, and will continue to do so as we develop the new Early Help service. Working together across of all the support services for children and young people is absolutely crucial to ensure they get the best possible support at the right time and I hope we will be able to use the experience Young Carers Bucks has to help get this right.

"We are pleased to note that Ofsted recognised the financial support that the council gives Children's Services has improved since the previous inspection. They also acknowledged the proposed new Early Help service:“The local authority acknowledges that there is more to do to improve the early help offer and has well-advanced plans in place to do so” however stated that whilst we currently “deliver effective intensive early help” we could be doing more as we are “not yet reaching all the children whom it needs to or having a demonstrable impact on reducing the number of referrals to children’s social care.”

"That last sentence is so important - I cannot accept the status quo is good enough.

Warren Whyte, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said:

“We highly value the Young Carers service we have in Buckinghamshire. As part of the Early Help consultation process, a decision was taken to remove Young Carers Bucks from the review as this is currently a joint contract with services for adult carers. We recognise that young carers provide valuable early help support however we want to consider the future plans for services for carers across both adults and children’s services together at this stage. We can confirm that any change to services for young carers in the future would of course involve full consultation with Young Carers Bucks as well as children, young people and their families.

"The council are currently setting the budget for 2018/19 and we do not anticipate any changes to the Buckinghamshire Young Carers budget for 2018/19 as a result of this.

"We have been speaking with Young Carers Bucks about the service that they provide and how they can best support young carers in the future, and will continue to do so as we develop the new Early Help service. Working together across of all the support services for children and young people is absolutely crucial to ensure they get the best possible support at the right time and I hope we will be able to use the experience Young Carers Bucks has to help get this right.

"We are pleased to note that Ofsted recognised the financial support that the council gives Children's Services has improved since the previous inspection. They also acknowledged the proposed new Early Help service “The local authority acknowledges that there is more to do to improve the early help offer and has well-advanced plans in place to do so” however stated that whilst we currently “deliver effective intensive early help” we could be doing more as we are “not yet reaching all the children whom it needs to or having a demonstrable impact on reducing the number of referrals to children’s social care.”

"That last sentence is so important - I cannot accept the status quo is good enough. We have to do things differently to help more children that need our help earlier. Allowing problems to escalate and then to trip into social care is not something I wish to tolerate, and I am pleased that the council finally grasped the challenge last year to develop the new service, and to have a new proactive and targeted Early Help service that responds to Ofsted's concerns.”