Barnardo’s NI welcomes the launch of the Independent Review of Children's Care Services 

Published on
22 June 2023

We want to see a reformed children's social care system that is fit for purpose

Commenting on this week’s launch of the Independent Review of Children's Care Services and on the need for change in Children's services in Northern Ireland, Michele Janes, Director of Barnardo’s NI said: 

“With a political vacuum at Stormont, regular funding cuts, and with the highest number of children in care since the introduction of the Children’s Order in 1995, Children’s Services in Northern Ireland are under pressure like never before. 

"There’s an immediate need for fundamental change to help struggling families and children who desperately need vital support and access to basic services.  

“We welcome the launch of the independent review.  Professor Ray Jones’ Report comes at a crucial moment, and we hope that this will be an important step that will lead to positive change to improve the system and the lives of children and young people in the longer term.   

“Not enough is being done for children and families in the system right now. Parents tell us every day that there’s a real difficulty in getting access to the support they need. They are being faced with an unprecedented level of delay and it’s having a direct impact on the lives of their children. We know from engaging with children, young people and families that many of them are struggling right now and the challenges facing them simply cannot be ignored.” 

As Professor Jones said when launching the report this week, while the problems facing Children’s Social Care in Northern Ireland are big, this is solvable. Northern Ireland itself is small and we can tackle these problems by working together. 

Barnardo's NI has published its submission to the Independent Review of Children's Services. Barnardo’s consulted staff, children, young people, parents and carers on their experiences of social care and their thoughts on how the system can be improved. 

Our findings highlight a failure of Children’s Services to respond to individual and complex needs. Many parents, carers, and young people also told us that it has been increasingly difficult for them to get access to the support they need when they need it. 

We are calling for action to bring about a reduction of waiting lists, better access to basic services, better communication with families, and increased collaboration with the Community and Voluntary Sector. 

Commenting further, Michele Janes added: 

“We need to fix a system that often fails to intervene before problems reach crisis point and leaves too many children and young people without the support they need. Increasingly we see too many children and young people exposed to unacceptable risks.  

“We need to see real political leadership to deliver on the Review’s recommendations, urgent investment, and collaboration with the community and voluntary sector to ensure that recommendations for change become a reality. Barnardo’s NI will continue to work closely with others across the community and voluntary sector to engage with the Department of Health and statutory bodies implementing the Review.  

Crucially, we’ll continue to listen to and represent the voices of our children, young people, parents, and carers on all these issues as they develop. Parents, carers and young people must be directly involved in this process.  

“We want to see a reformed social care system that is fit for purpose.  The children and families who need support from children’s social care deserve nothing less than the best.” 

You can read the Barnardo's NI submission to the review in full here:
Reimagining Social Care Services in NI