I wasn’t really sure what to expect when we launched the Call for Ideas back in November. We decided to be really open in asking people to submit ideas. In part because we had started to receive unsolicited ideas and felt the fair thing would be to be really explicit that everyone was welcome to share views, but also because no one has a monopoly on good ideas.
Yes, charities and other organisations spend a lot of time thinking about policy – but we were sure after months of hearing from people with lived experience of children’s social care and those who work in the sector that there were plenty of people out there brimming with ideas on how to improve things too.
And we were right! Almost 600 people or organisations submitted just under 1000 ideas. Thank you to everyone who took the time to make a submission. At the end of the review we will publish every submission we received through the Call for Ideas in full, including the name of the organisation or individual who submitted it (except where someone has requested their idea be published anonymously).
It’s often said in journalism that the headline writer has the hardest job – condensing a long detailed story into just a few words. We gave you a bit more than the length of a headline but I know getting big ideas into 250 words can be hard. We set the word limit not to make your life difficult but to really boil your ideas down to their essence. Even with the 250 word count, the team and I will have potentially just under a quarter of a million words to digest and combine with what we have learned through thousands of hours of conversations with over 2,000 people with lived experience or who work in children’s social care. Not to mention the hundreds of meetings and events we have arranged or attended with organisations and charities since the review launched.
We greatly appreciate the submissions so many of you have made to our Call for Advice, Call for Evidence and the many detailed submissions we received as feedback to the Case for Change. For those of you who prefer to compose a long read rather than a headline, rest assured there has been a place for you during this review. However, I hope this exercise has also reached beyond the already engaged policy experts in this field to others with wisdom to offer.
From first glance at the breakdown it looks like over half of the submissions have come from people with lived experience of children’s social care, carers or the children’s social care workforce we’re delighted so many who understand children’s social care at a personal level have contributed.
In terms of the categories people ordered their submission by, the top areas look to be:
- Children in care
- Local Authorities
- Children in Need/Child protection
- Foster care
- Social Work
- Kinship care
Though of course some ideas will cross reference more than one category, so a submission around residential children’s homes for example would fall under both children in care and local authorities. But it’s an interesting snapshot none the less and I’m very grateful to everyone who promoted the Call for Ideas to a wider audience.
Now the really hard work begins
As I made clear when we launched the Call for Ideas we have been thinking of the review in phases – Diagnosis, Discovery, Development and Delivery (using the Open Policy Making Toolkit). The Call for Ideas adds to the huge amount of evidence we have amassed over the course of the review including through workshops, focus groups, local area deep dives and rich and stimulating conversations with groups big and small.
Our task is to now take all this work and bring it together into coherent recommendations that will help us transform children’s social care and improve outcomes for children and families.
This means we will necessarily be a lot quieter over the next few months as we do the really hard work of writing up recommendations. Think of us as a student with our head in the books. Though like a student we will need a break from the books to check in with people and share thoughts, so we won’t disappear entirely. For example, in the new year I’m hoping we can share some detail on our ‘Spotlight on families’ work where we have used ethnographic research methods to hear directly from families with experience of the system.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this review over the past year from our first Call for Advice through to this most recent Call for Ideas. We appreciate the time and interest so many of you have invested in this review and we hope to emerge in Spring 2022 with an ambitious plan which reflects everyone’s hard work.
In the meantime have a great break over Christmas and the New Year when it comes.