13/08/2015 13:47 BST | Updated 13/08/2016 06:59 BST

In Every Single One of These First 100 Days, We Have Put Children at the Heart of What We Do


To mark 100 days of the first Conservative government in nearly 20 years, HuffPost UK is running 100 Days of Dave, a special series of blog posts from grassroots campaigners to government ministers, single parents to first-year students, reflecting on what's worked and what hasn't, whilst looking for solutions to the problems we still face.

It's incredible to think that it's been just 100 days since I returned to government as the children and families minister. With landmark reforms set in train across the board from social work to adoption, the creation of a new cross-government child protection taskforce - not to mention the passage of two bills through parliament on adoption and childcare - we've really hit the ground running. And in every single one of those hundred days our mission has never wavered - putting children at the heart of what we do so that everyone, irrespective of who they are or where they come from, can have a better start in life. I've lived and worked with children in care throughout my life, so I know first-hand just how important it is to give every child, from every background, the support and the opportunities we would all want for our own children. Uppermost in that endeavour is the absolute need to protect vulnerable children, something I consider to be the most profound responsibility we have as a society.

That's why, whilst of course being personally pleased to be promoted to Minister of State, I was mainly delighted that these responsibilities have been recognized at a more senior level within government. It's good too that the importance of child protection across Government has been given serious prominence, formalised most notably with the Prime Minister's new child protection implementation taskforce. This will lead our efforts to improve the way that children's services, the police and other agencies work together in the interests of young people. It will also complement the Home Office's work on child sexual exploitation. On top of this, we're also establishing a new Centre of Expertise to understand "what works" when it comes to tackling and preventing child sexual abuse and, over time, child protection more generally. I'm confident that the centre will help us build on this expertise and enable all those working with children to improve practice - highlighting the signs to look out for, the consequences of sexual abuse and providing best evidence on how to support victims. But we also know we need to go further to tackle this national threat.

That's why we've worked hard to strengthen the child protection system - not with headline gimmicks and knee-jerk reactions, but with major reforms to social worker recruitment and assessment, and an ambitious drive for innovation throughout the system. A good example of this innovation is our new social work teaching partnerships, which have the potential to build strong regional workforces and a system that not only brings the right people into the profession and equips them with the right skills, but also provides the best possible ongoing training for those already doing the job. And these partnerships demonstrate how, even when money is tight, a sharp focus on innovation can yield new and better ways of working that are also more cost-effective. That's why we've given £100million in funding through the Innovation Programme to encourage excellence and spread more creative best practice. We know that the quality of the workforce and frontline practice is absolutely key to transforming lives. I know this, not just from my ministerial experience, but also from seeing the incredible work that social workers do, under often the most extreme pressure, whilst I was working in the care system as a family barrister and growing up in a fostering family.

I consider myself fortunate to have grow up with two adoptive brothers and to have had first-hand experience of the support that families need and the some of the challenges they face. It's why I'm pushing forward with reforms to the adoption system to try tear down the barriers that can stop children being placed with their forever families. This includes announcing £4.5million funding for Regional Adoption Agencies so we can work across authority boundaries and reduce delays that are still seeing almost 3,000 children waiting to be adopted despite their being enough approved adopters.

We also announced an extra £30million in this year's budget to help councils cover the costs of the adoption inter-agency fee, which can often prevent matches with approved adopters and cause delays. But we also want to make sure there is support in place to help adoptive families overcome challenges they may face through the £19million Adoption Support Fund. We know that at least 330 families have already benefited from the fund since May, receiving the therapeutic support they need.

So we're making real progress on key areas and I'm proud of what we've achieved over the past 100 days, building on major reforms to improve child protection and support for children in care. But this is no time to rest on our laurels - it's very much a beginning. After all, this isn't just about the changes we can make in a given number of days, it's about making changes that will have a positive effect for years to come - for this generation and the ones that follow - and in doing so be confident that we are doing what's best by and for children, wherever they are and whatever their start in life.

Edward Timpson is Minister for Children and Families and Conservative MP for Crewe and Nantwich

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