7. THE VISION FOR CHILDREN
The principles underpinning the strategy
The three principles which are set out in the strategy provided the starting point for all our work:
- The needs of the child must be paramount
- Where remaining in the birth family would not be in the child's interests, care within the wider family will be the first option
- If this is not possible, placement with foster carers with a clear plan for the child's future is preferred.
We developed some additional principles which guided our thinking and recommendations
- Planning for children to ensure their needs for stability can be met must be set in timescales that reflect the child's developmental needs and not an arbitrary adult timescale.
- Services must be available to provide children who have experienced trauma with stability and emotional care. Understanding the impact on children of family substance misuse has to be a priority for all practitioners.
- All services must pay attention to the child's emotional needs and the parenting they need to grow and develop.
- Leadership in agencies must enable, support and empower workers
- Skilled practitioners working with children, kinship or foster carers must have sufficient time to form relationships with children and carers, gather information, analyse that information and create a child's plan.
- Listening to children and ensuring their views are used in planning.
- Carers for children must be skilled, trained and supported
Achieving the Vision
All the work we have done has been set in the context of the Government in Scotland's vision for children. In summary, the Government in Scotland's vision for all children is that they will have the capacities needed to be Confident Individuals; Effective Contributors; Successful Learners; Responsible Citizens. This theme was the basis for the Curriculum for Excellence.
For children to achieve that vision, they need to be safe, nurtured, healthy, achieving, active, respected and responsible, and included. Kinship and foster carers play a significant role in helping children to fulfil their full potential and become secure and happy adults.
The key commitment to a personalised service for every child who needs to be looked after, many with complex needs, requires a range of carers with a range of skills and experiences.
We have focused our vision on the particular needs of looked after children in kinship or foster care.
The principles of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 remain central to Councils' work with children and families with the welfare of the child being the paramount consideration in any decision. This can appear to be in question in some decision- making. Concerns were expressed in some of the Task Groups that there appears to have been a loss of trust by Children's Hearing members and Courts in social work assessments particularly relating to permanent placement away from birth parents.
Some of our recommendations cover this concern and suggest more joint training and discussion opportunities involving legal decision makers and social work practitioners to improve mutual understanding of roles and the significant child development issues that need to be better understood.
Well-supported families, extended family support and foster care resources for children who have to leave home and family are all essential parts of reaching the vision for children.
Support must come from universal and specialist services as well as extended families.
From our discussions we are clear that kinship and foster carers make a huge contribution towards the vision for many children both looked after and not looked after.
Carers cannot achieve that without being well supported and able to access a range of other services essential to the development of the children for whom they care.
This place is warm yet cold.
This place can be light or dark.
This place can be tranquil or booming.
This place can be peaceful or full of war.
This place is full of hope and yet the place of shattered dreams.
This place is safe and dangerous at the same time.
This place is love and hate.
This place can smell of apples or roses.
This place can be lonely or all the company you need.
This place is both now and then.
This place can be right here or a million miles away.
This place is wherever you are.
( From the report 'Forgotten Voices', tFN )