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The investment of a lifetime

Delivering better outcomes for children in care

For the 103,000 children and young people in the UK care system, their life chances and outcomes are likely to be much poorer than their peers, despite the best endeavours of all who work with them. Here, for the first time, we have quantified the attributable costs associated with the current system. This is "the investment of a lifetime" and one for which we all should expect a greater return.

The responsibility to deliver better for this cohort of children and young people sits with all of us, as part of a wider society committed to levelling up. This has never been more critical than right now, as we begin to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This report for Home for Good sets out recommendations for the public and voluntary sectors, private sector (including businesses), and society as a whole, to enact real change and deliver better outcomes for children in care.

Home for good logo
Home for good logo

“The care system is not a product of conscious design, and the Government’s independent review to consider how the system can ensure love, safety and stability for children is warmly welcomed. Current outcomes do not reflect the extraordinary drive, passion and commitment that comes from the professionals, volunteers and families working in the sector.”

Tania BrightCEO at Home for Good

“Across the world the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged people and groups, and shut down many employment opportunities. We need to redouble our efforts to improve social mobility - and that includes identifying and reaching those people most at risk of being left behind, such as children in care.”

Laura Hinton, executive board member and chief people officer at PwC
Laura Hinton, executive board member and chief people officer at PwC

COVID-19 Impact

The range of factors that contribute to a child entering care have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and there is a potentially considerable long-term impact in the years to come. Future data releases are expected to tell a tragic story regarding the number of additional children who may have entered care in 2020 as a result of the extra strain on family life felt by many.

Despite collective efforts to prioritise vulnerable children, including by the thousands of social workers who have gone above and beyond in the last year, the support received by many children and young people will be significantly less. Social distancing and other lockdown measures have restricted access to vital avenues of support outside the home, including from wider family members, friends and teachers.

COVID-19 has led to additional challenges for an already overstretched system

 laptop rose

Education outcomes

Limited access to remote learning tools has widened the disadvantage gap.

 children rose

Child protection

Injury, neglect and abuse of babies has risen by 20%.

 benchmarking rose

Job market

Unemployment is at its highest since 2017 and redundancies are at their highest since 2009

 house rose

Social distancing

Routine social worker in-person visits were suspended, then resumed but with reduced frequency.

 brain rose

Parental and child wellbeing

Rates of depression have more than doubled relative to the nine months before the pandemic.

 education rose

Teacher oversight

Child protection referrals dropped by more than 50% in parts of England when schools were closed.

Contact us

Rob Banham

Rob Banham

Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7738 310080

Alastair Macpherson

Alastair Macpherson

Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7703 546424

Emma Franklin

Emma Franklin

Consulting, PwC United Kingdom

Matthew Jones

Matthew Jones

Consulting, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7841 467441

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