Our July newsletter provides an update on the progress of the work of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care Services (the Review). In the June newsletter, we updated readers on the ongoing programme of engagement events that Professor Jones and the Review Team continue to undertake for the Review.
Throughout the month of July, Professor Ray Jones, the Independent Lead Reviewer, continued with the programme of visits and meetings with individuals and organisations involved in children’s services to help inform the work of the Review. Professor Jones met with policy leads from the Department of Health Physical and Sensory Disability Unit, children’s services commissioning leads from the Strategic Planning and Performance Group (formerly the Regional Health and Social Care Board), representatives from the Business Services Organisation (BSO), the Department of Education and the Education Authority as well as the Northern Ireland Guardian Ad Litem Agency (NIGALA). He spent time observing services in action, visiting Family Support Hubs in Newry and Mourne and the Springfield and Whiterock area of Belfast. He also visited the South Belfast Sure Start Centre where he met with mothers and young children to hear about their experiences.
Meetings have taken place with representatives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Public Protection Unit to observe practice in relation to children and young people. In July, Professor Jones met with staff and mothers from Women’s Aid in South Belfast and representatives from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Children (NPSCC) and the Regulated Quality Inspection Agency (RQIA). He has also met with children and young people arranged by VOYPIC and with unaccompanied asylum seeking children and young people as well as meeting asylum seeking and refugee families.
In case you missed our ‘tweets’, we have included below a series of photos following some of the engagement events and meetings Professor Jones attended during the month of July.
The Education Authority, Belfast
“Delighted to meet with the Education Authority yesterday who brought together reps from EA, CCMS and School Principals and Vice-Principals. Good discussion about the issues they’re facing”.
Sure Start Centre, South Belfast
“Another busy week for Professor Jones visiting services in action. Great meeting mothers and babies at the South Belfast Sure Start Centre, hearing about the support that they receive”.
Family Support Hub, West Belfast
“Last week Professor Jones met with staff, families and children from the Springfield and Whiterock Family Support Hub to hear about the support that they provide to newcomer families in the local area. An excellent visit to help inform the Review”.
VOYPIC and Young People, Holywood
“Great to hear the experiences of care experienced young people, a key part of informing the Review”.
Workshops will be held throughout the autumn to explore the major themes being identified through the Review. We will soon be issuing invitations and a hold the date flyer for our first workshop, which we are planning to hold on Tuesday 6th September 2022 to discuss and engage regarding children’s services for children and young people with disabilities and their families. The venue for the workshop is likely to be The Junction in Dungannon.
Please look out for the invitations arriving and be ready to respond with details of participants. We will try to accommodate as many participants as possible at the workshop; however, we are aware there may be some disappointment that places will be limited to between 80 – 90 people to allow engagement and interaction at the workshops.
HELP FOR YOUNG PEOPLE WITH HIGHER EDUCATION AND STUDIES
The Bath University Gold Scholarships provide financial assistance to young people, who might not otherwise have gone to university, and these might include care experienced young people, other young people who have had contact with children’s social services and, for example, young people from disadvantaged areas. It is hoped that there might be applications from Northern Ireland as Professor Jones’ fee for conducting the Review is being donated to the Gold Scholarship programme. Information is available at https://www.bath.ac.uk/campaigns/gold-scholarship-programme/.
There are also new Churchill Fellowships for young people who are care experienced to undertake periods of study and research. Information can be found at The Churchill Fellowship.
QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY BELFAST
Professor Jones has conveyed his congratulations to the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work on their recent success stating:
“MANY congratulations from everyone at the Children’s Social Care Review team to Queen’s University for being rated as the top university for social work education across the whole of the UK https://www.qub.ac.uk/News/Allnews/featured/queens-university-belfast-rises-complete-university-guide-league-table.html. It is an impressive achievement and reflects well on the university’s social work staff, students, practice teachers and placement providers. Well done!”
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.