CiNI Update, February 2023

The engagement with parents and carers undertaken by Children in Northern Ireland has now been completed. From March to August 2022 engagements with 14 groups were facilitated. These included parents of children with disabilities, prisoners’ families, adoptive parents, mothers impacted by domestic abuse, refugee families and parents who had direct experience of Social Services.

CiNI provided participants with the opportunity to contribute their views and opinions to the work of the Review. These meetings also served to support some groups to clarify both their thinking and key messages in advance of direct meetings with Professor Ray Jones which, facilitated by CiNI, took place during September and October 2022.  Parents and carers were also supported to attend and contribute to meetings of the Review Advisory Panel and to four Thematic Workshops.  Also, a few one-to-one interviews were conducted for those who were unable to attend group meetings.

In all 178 parents and carers engaged through CiNI, and welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the Review, hopeful for improvements in service provision both for themselves and other families.  Overall, the views expressed were fair and measured and the groups understood the pressures on the system and social workers in particular. They raised several key issues such as the lack of family support and key services, high turnover of social work staff, problems with communication, the need for practical support, better training for social work staff in relation to autism and domestic abuse as well as the need for parents and carers to be genuine partners in the design, development, review and delivery of services.

CiNI would like to take this opportunity to thank all the parents and carers who contributed to this Review for their openness and honesty during the process.