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BLOG: Stability Index

Children and young people in care continue to share their experiences of instability of placements, moving from one placement to another, not truly understanding why they are moving home and school and sadly not having contact with the same social worker over a prolonged period.

The ‘Stability Index’ led ‘by the Children’s Commissioner’s Office is an important measurement of stability for children in the care of each local authority involved in the pilot. The stability index measures number of placements, school moves, and change of social workers experienced by children in care.  

The importance of direct relationship based social work and children having the opportunity to build a trusting, consistent sustainable relationship with the same social worker is fundamental to good social work practice.

All children and young people need loving, caring, high-quality consistent relationships and this is even more so for children in care who have often experienced instability, loss, separation of relationships, distress and trauma.  No one would dispute that

Local Authorities have a legal corporate parenting responsibility to ensure that all children in care receive holistic care and support, love, security and stability.

The Children’s Commissioners Office Stability Index Report: Overview and Initial Findings (2017) highlights the data available to date from the Stability Index pilot estimates that around 50,000 children in care on the 31st March 2016 (71% of all children in care in England) experienced a change in their placement, school move or their social worker over a 12-month period.

The report highlights that data was available for 7,269 children across the 22 pilot areas. 2 in 3 children (69%) experienced a change in at least one measure. 1 in 20 (5%) experienced a change in all three, equivalent to around 2,000 children in care attending school experiencing a change in their placement, school and social worker all within the same year.

It is also estimated that around 220 children experienced high instability across all three stability index measures in the same 12-month period including multiple social worker changes, and evidence of variation of children’s experiences across the country. 

Retention of social workers has a direct impact on the stability index relating to change of social workers for children in care. BASW England wants as many social workers as possible to share with us your experiences of how much direct time you spend with children and families during an average week and how much time you spend on your computer or non-direct contact service work (include SurveyMonkey link to questionnaire).  Tell us the reasons if you have recently changed your job or left the profession and how you think the we can improve and change the number of social worker changes that children in care experience.  

Children in Care deserve stability and the opportunity to develop trusting relationship with their social workers. In addition, social workers need to be valued and supported by their employer and be given the available time and resources to do their job.