Editorial: Words alone will not save children from neglect


Notwithstanding his rather Victorian choice of words, the Education Secretary's attack on the "physical and moral squalor" in which too many children are forced to live is both powerful and – sadly – justified.

In response to a report on children's services in South Yorkshire published yesterday, Michael Gove spoke vividly of the need to give social workers the backing to act more quickly in taking neglected or abused children into care. In theory at least, Mr Gove is entirely right. If only the care system were not already strained to breaking point.

The quality of care in children's homes is patchy at best, and the entire residential system "not fit for purpose" for youngsters who go missing, according to a recent investigation by MPs. Meanwhile, fostering is in crisis, unable to keep up with demand, and the adoption process is so difficult and so slow that the backlog is only getting worse.

Until the profound problems bedevilling the care system are solved, taking more children away from unfit parents faster is easier said than done.

Full marks for rhetoric, Mr Gove. Now tackle the reality.