Monday, 20 April 2009

Children in care need pushy 'parents'

There is some good sense in today's report from the Children's select committee on children in care. The state does have to become a 'pushy parent' demanding better health and other services for those in its care. There is also a lot to commend the Danish system of care homes, and given what happened with Baby P and other such cases, there are legitimate questions about whether children are always having their needs put first.

But one of the biggest differences could be made by having more dedicated adults - individual people who are advocates but not necessarily social workers - who take individual young people under their wing and keep with them through their years of growing up, regardless of where they are placed. The 'lead professional' proposed by the Government is too often likely to change. The young people need someone who consistently acts as their advocate - and there are good advocates around - and can push bureaucracies to work in their favour as much as any pushy middle class parent. And good as the select committee report is, one must fear that if the Government pays too much attention to its bureaucratic recommendations like
We recommend that all Children’s Trusts take responsibility for multi-agency corporate parenting training, to include managers within adult ealth and social care services, and officers and members of district councils where relevant
......and too little to the need to address this concern identified in one of its own reports
Children and young people often say that they want better and more consistent relationships with the professionals who work with them. Far more than other children, children in care have to relate to a wide range of different professionals and learn to deal with different people coming in and out of their lives
.....then young people in care will continue to lose out no matter how much multi-agency corporate parenting training goes on.

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