Less than three weeks ago the Sun missed an opportunity to dig into the real causes of the crisis in funding for services for children in care, opting instead for sensationalist headlines while using poor evidence.
Today the Guardian similarly produced an article that fails our most vulnerable children because it fails to understand the picture or to address the fundamental issues.
“Vulnerable children treated ‘like cattle’ in care home system” is another depressing litany of cobbled together anecdotes, often about discrete and unrelated facts, and also includes a now-familiar moralistic attack on the private sector, allied to a damning assessment of local authority practice.
Almost all of my response to the Sun article (see “Time to stop the division”) applies equally to the Guardian article. I’m distressed that no part of the independent press is able to champion the cause of looked after children effectively.
The real issues are about the stand-off in funding clarity between central and local government and the failings of stressed councils to commission the markets they need, while the various Government bodies charged with improving the situation have yet to have an impact.
There is real substance available in those issues for a critical press to get its teeth into, and it should rightly also seek to properly understand and to challenge the effectiveness of the respective roles of the private sector, the public sector and others. The interests of looked after children would be far better served by addressing these issues and to do so using an increasingly sophisticated evidence base and studies.