This is a post by a parent. NESTA is an ‘innovation foundation’ backing new ideas to tackle ‘the big challenges of our time’. The What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care is a new project to foster evidence-informed practice in the sector in England. The Development Team is helping to identify what the Centre should focus on, how it should identify and share evidence, and how it should be managed and led.
She poses the stark question – are children and families going to be direct participants in this endeavour or is it more an effort to find cheaper innovations with no clear definition of what is meant by ‘success’? I would be interested to know what response this parent receives…
WHAT WORKS CENTRE
OPEN LETTER to NESTA
I’m the parent of a young person who entered Care in adolescence. I’ve been campaigning and working for better rights for families in similar circumstances and for children with disabilities who enter Care since then.
I understand that NESTA will have a key role in the new What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care
As I understand it, there are a number of ethical issues that need to be addressed as regards the aims of the Centre and how these should be achieved. The Children’s Act 1989, is the primary piece of legislation to protect the welfare of children and it is generally accepted that it was intended to promote collaborative working between families and Agencies in the best interests of children.
The Main Principles of the Act are:
– the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration.
– wherever possible, children should be brought up and cared for within their own families.
– parents with children in need should be helped to bring up their children themselves; this help would be provided as a service to the child and his family.
It seems apparent that we are at a crossroads as regards working with families in England and Wales with some stark choices:-
Are the principles of the Children’s Act to be bravely embraced as never before including involving parents and carers in real decision-making at strategic level when it comes to designing social care services for children and families?
Are children and families to be treated as ‘guinea pigs’ in developing commercially viable ‘interventions’ in the name of ‘innovative practice in child protection’ with little say in the matter and no clear idea of how success is defined relative to the Children’s Act 1989?
I have been in a considerable number of rooms containing child protection professionals with a ‘we know best’ attitude when it comes to working with families and I find this both dispiriting and disturbing. What I’m sure of is that this attitude will never deliver for children and families. Not all programmes are like this thankfully. I’m a parent/carer member of a NHS Programme for example which has an ethos of co-production.
Please, please involve families (birth, adoptive, kinship etc) in the new Centre at decision-making level. To do anything other than this is highly unethical and will undermine the stated aims of the Centre.
This is my submission to the Care Crisis Review for what it is worth.
I look forward to a response to this email.