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Enhancing child services, long term financial implications

16th December 2010

In these economically challenging times it is exceptionally difficult to make commitments to spare any specific services from budget cuts. It takes political courage and an ability to see long term potential savings rather than simply immediate financial implications. 

Nowhere is this issue more pertinent than the field of child services and youth intervention. A report issued by the Children’s Services Development Group, In it Together II: Redefining Value in Children’s Services, believes that cutting funding to children with special needs and those in care could cost governments far more in the long term in terms of welfare payments and criminal justice expenditure.

 It is not the group’s view that money must be pumped into the system but rather the frugal economic environment should alter the rationalising of expenses. A greater examination into the effectiveness of dealing with individual cases should be made. The process of providing minimal services that do little to address the child’s issues and difficulties and have the potential to ultimately augment such should be curtailed immediately. There is the potential to make huge long term savings if the right form of early intervention is selected.      

 At present in Britain 23% of prisoners were at one time in care. The cost of this to the state is £871,785,000. If placements for children in care are provided that effectively meet needs early on and therefore manage to divert more away from being caught up in the justice system, a massive saving could be made. 

 By finding the right combination of timely and stable interventions, that can potentially be stepped down as progress is made, young people can be equipped to succeed and be less burdensome to state expenditure over time. 

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