Welcome to our August newsletter, which provides an update on progress of the work of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care Services (the Review).
Professor Jones, Lead Reviewer, continued his programme of meetings and visits over the month of August. He has had on-line meetings with the Directors of Human Resources and the Directors of Finance from the five Health and Social Care Trusts and also had a further meeting with the Director of Children’s Services in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.
In Enniskillen Professor Jones met with practitioners and managers from the Enniskillen Family and Childcare team to hear about the approach being piloted, bringing together previously separate Gateway, Family Intervention and Looked After Children’s teams in the Western Trust’s Enniskillen area.
Professor Jones meets with senior managers from the Enniskillen Family and Childcare team at the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen.
In Castlederg Professor Jones met with the Western Trust and Derry GP Federation Primary Care Social Work Multi-disciplinary Team to hear about the multi-disciplinary approach where social work practitioners work in close collaboration with primary care practitioners co-located in GP/primary care settings.
Members of the Western Trust & Derry GP Federation Primary Care Social Work Multi-disciplinary Team with Professor Ray Jones
Professor Jones also attended the Regional Children and Young People Strategic Partnership meeting in Antrim - the first of their meetings to be held face-to-face since the start of the Pandemic. He also met with the Director and project team of the Northern Ireland Strategy on Ending Violence against Women and Girls.
The Fostering Network, on behalf of the Review, facilitated two meetings in Omagh and Antrim. In Omagh Professor Jones met with kinship carers and in Antrim Professor Jones and members of the Review Panel met with foster carers.
Professor Jones attended a series of workshops facilitated, on behalf of the Review, by VOYPIC (Voice of Young People in Care). The workshops were separately attended by:
- Care experienced young parents;
- Care experienced young people (up to age 25 years);
- Young carers; and
- Care experienced adults (age 25 years and over).
All of the meetings and workshops were extremely valuable in highlighting some of the key issues facing care experienced young people and adults, kinship carers, foster carers and those working within children’s social care teams and services. Professor Jones is benefitting greatly from the advice, information and perspectives he is receiving about children’s social care in Northern Ireland.
FAREWELL TO TWO DIRECTORS OF CHILDREN’S SERVICES
Professor Jones held final meetings with Carol Diffin, Director of Children’s Services in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and Barbara Campbell, Director of Children’s Services in the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust as they leave their posts at the end August. As well as wishing Carol and Barbara well for the future, Professor Jones thanked each for their input to the Review based on their substantial experience, expertise and wisdom and he looks forward to working with their respective successors in these roles in both Trusts.
WORKSHOP - CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AND THEIR FAMILIES
Thank you to all of the participants who attended the workshop for children and young people with disabilities and their families on Tuesday 6 September 2022 at the Junction, Dungannon. Thanks in particular to the co-chairs and speakers at the event. There will be more feedback on the workshop in our September Newsletter.
CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE (update provided by VOYPIC)
Over the summer holidays, VOYPIC has continued to support the work of the Experts by Experience Reference Group. In August, the group came together for a team building day at Prison Island, Belfast. This gave the young people an opportunity to meet socially, to get to know each other better, and to take some time to discuss progress of the Review to date.
In August, VOYPIC ran a full day of workshops with Professor Jones, including sessions with Care Experienced Young Parents, Care Experienced Young People (14+) and Care Experienced Adults (26+). These workshops provided the wider care experienced community to share their thoughts on the Review, and highlight issues that the panel should consider.
In partnership with Action for Children and Barnardo’s, a fourth workshop was held for young carers. This workshop allowed young people, who provide care for a family member, to talk about the unique ways they experience children’s social care services, what challenges they face, and how this can be improved.
The EBE Reference Group is scheduled to meet again in early September, ahead of the next meeting of the Expert Panel meeting in mid-September.
PARENTS AND CARERS (update provided by CiNI)
The team at Children in Northern Ireland (CiNI) continue to engage with a wide variety of parents and carers whose children have been involved in social care services.
They have had face to face meetings with parents/carers of children with disabilities, mothers whose children have been removed from their care, women whose children need support because of violence in the home, and those who have been involved with courts and custodial services. They have also met a forum for parents and carers who meet regularly for mutual support and who work in partnership with Trust staff to help improve and develop services for families.
They have had online meetings with young mothers engaged with infant mental health services, adoptive parents, and parents and carers involved in autism services.
Meetings coming up include groups of newcomer families and adoptive parents.
Next month CiNI will be facilitating the Lead Reviewer, Professor Jones and his team to meet directly with a selection of groups who have been involved in the preparatory meetings with us so far.
All parents and carers who have engaged in the process to date have been very enthusiastic about sharing their experiences and views. They have generated lots of ideas for how services can be improved. They appreciate, and are looking forward to, the opportunity of sharing their ideas with Professor Jones.
In addition to that series of meetings with Professor Jones, CiNI will be working with a group of parents of children with disability to support them to take part in a workshop on the theme of disability which will be hosted by Professor Jones in September.
The next Review Workshop will be held on 13th October 2022 in Hazelwood Integrated College – a school Professor Jones has already visited. The theme for this workshop will be care experienced children and young people and those who care for and support them.
CONTACTING THE REVIEW
If you wish to get in touch with the Review, you can contact the Review Secretariat team through the Review’s website, accessed here. The website provides information about the Review, details on how to contact us, key documents and latest news. The Review website will serve as a platform to connect with you and to seek your views.
The Review has its own twitter account @cscsreviewNI where you can follow us, and view our twitter feed for more updates on the work of the Review.