On Tuesday this week I was very privileged to be invited as a guest of TACT to the launch of The Care Inquiry. This inquiry has involved 8 different charities who aim to support children and young people within or from the care system, Adoption UK, BAAF (British Association for Adoption and Fostering), Family Rights Group, the Fostering Network, Research in Practice, TACT, The Who Cares? Trust, and the Together Trust.
The aim of this inquiry was to look at the way in which children are cared for when they can no longer live with their birth families and to make recommendations as to how the lives of these children can be improved. The reason being that all charities involved are very much aware that whilst a lot of hard work is being done to improve the care these children are provided, evidence would most definitely suggest that the in many areas the best possible provision is not being achieved.
As well as looking at current and relevant reports and documentation surrounding the care of children and young people outside their birth families, The Inquiry spoke widely to those involved within this system. The Care Workers, The Foster Carers, The Kinship Cares, The Adoptive Parents, The Birth Parents and most importantly the young people and children who these people aim to support. The importance of the voice of the young was made clear in a film shown in the opening of the evening where those from the care system spoke of their own experiences and also their desires for how this service could best support them. See for yourself….
We all gathered in a grand, by my standards, room in Deans Yard behind Westminster Abbey all of which I was very much impressed by. There were representatives there from all the charities as well as some of those who had been invited to give evidence during The Care Inquiry. The evening opened with time to meet others gathered and share thoughts and ideas on why we all converged on this spot. I, along with my good friend Amanda Boorman from The Open Nest Charity were introduced to Jim Bond a long time foster carer of teenagers and support worker with adoptive families, he was also one of the speakers that evening.
It was wonderful to converse with people who showed understanding and comprehension to my own experiences and were interested and excited by the work Vicki from The Boys Behaviour and I do on The Weekly Adoption Shout Out. I also thoroughly enjoyed listening to the experiences of others and their opinions on The Care Inquiry and other related topics that were discussed.
From the outset of the introductory speech made by Robert Tapsfield, Chair of the Care Inquiry steering group, to Edward Timpson MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families and then to different representatives of the care system, the message was “communication”.
Communication needs to be improved to create more secure placements of permanency for our vulnerable children. The children need to be listened to; their wishes must be taken into consideration. Ashley Williamson a care leaver spoke of his own experiences of having his concerns for what the future held for him ignored when he moved to foster care at a point when his mum was having some personal difficulties. Instead of explaining to him what was happening he was repeatedly told not to worry and focus on his school work. This was the very last thing he was capable of doing when he was anxiously contemplating where home would be for him in the future.
The report has been titled Making not Breaking – Building Relationships for our most Vulnerable Children, and as each of the speakers took to the stage their individual stories spoke about the important of this. The requirement for all children on the edge of or within the care system to create positive bonds with those supporting them, bonds that are permanent and long standing. Jim Bond spoke of his own experiences of the teenagers he had fostered and how on too many occasions they had to come to terms with a new social workers as the one previous moved on to pastures new. These inconsistencies are damaging to vulnerable young people and any prospects they may have of forming meaningful relationships in the future. Building relationships is considered, in the report to be “the golden thread” and in my limited experience I must agree.
For me the evening was inspiring, I am not a journalistic writer and so to read more of what the report has to say please read here. For me there was a room full of hope on that evening, one where a brighter future can be created for the vulnerable young in our society, for those like my own children and the ones I read about weekly in all the wonderful adoption posts I get to see. But also other children, those that adoption doesn’t suit and isn’t right for, these children also have to the right to good quality permanent homes being available to them. I have written previously about a sibling of my children who I feel more consideration and thought should have been afforded and it was with much optimism I listened to recommendations for the individual child’s requirements to be a priority.
I understand that the words were being spoken on this evening and creating the reality of these words will be a hard and arduous task but with commitment from all those there and supported by the likes of Lisa Nandy, whos passionate speech really convinced me of here concern and dedication to the cause, I believes things can be done. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I felt very privileged to be there and to be amongst such hope for the future. I have, to myself and anyone willing to listen, pledged to do my bit to support the cause as much as I can, so beware you’ve not heard the last of this from me.