It’s been just over a fortnight since the Independent Care Review reports ignited our collective energy, enthusiasm and commitment for a new ground breaking vision and approach to supporting young people and their families who need help. We continue to embrace and support the progressive process and stance laid before us all – challenging us to rethink how we value care experience, through the lens of a compelling source of new evidence built from the voices of over five thousand people who have shared their very personal and professional experiences. It rightly asks us to rethink our language about people and ‘systems’ and to root all that we do in positive, supportive relationships.
At CELCIS, we are committed to actively supporting its implementation in ways that will help to ‘Keep the Promise’. Ways that mean that collectively we can address how to reduce poverty and stigma and the effects of these, and can provide early help, support to all families and keep relationships and rights at the core always.
I can think of no better day than Care Day to reaffirm this commitment. Care Day celebrates the lives of care experienced people and this year's theme of ‘reimagining’ encourages us to think differently about how Scotland can best support care experienced people and their families to flourish. And we must. This theme and the findings of the Review clearly go hand in hand: both throw down a challenge to us all – the challenge to radically reconsider how we best support families. Like others in the children’s sector and beyond - for it will take many to make the cultural shifts and changes we all want to see - it’s a challenge that we can completely get behind.
As the Review sets out, it will take more than a vision, hopes, or imagination for these aspirations to transform the experiences and outcomes of children and families. We must all be ready for what this scale of change will require – of ourselves and others. Change is hard and often painful, but it is possible. It means current assumptions and ways of working will need to be relinquished. It will take concerted collaborative effort, knowledge, skill, resource and tenacity to achieve the redesign and reshaping of services and support that are necessary. It will require bringing the right people together who know about the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of change, if we are to truly achieve the sustained improvements which children and families are now rightly demanding of us.
All this takes us beyond imagining or re-imagining what it will look like - to a place of action and implementation. We must collectively apply the evidence on what it takes to successfully implement this type of large scale, fundamental change: use a shared approach for change that is underpinned by co-production, collaboration, leadership, evidence-informed design and data.
Experience tells us that with the right people, the right resource and the right support – changes to how services are delivered are not only possible but are already improving decision-making and how children and families voices are heard and experiences are understood and supported. Our work in local areas has provided invaluable opportunities for managers and practitioners from different services to learn together about what it really takes to redesign and repurpose services to better meet the needs of children and families. We can already see the impact that enabling families’ participation in ‘Team Around the Child’ meetings is having, and how we can support the design of Intensive Family Support Services and strengthen the early support provided by midwives.
We’re at the forefront of galvanising learning about how to guide and facilitate this kind of change. It is telling us all what it takes to build in what the workforce needs in order to learn and sustain new ways of working to have the positive impact needed – that help does help. To realise the aspirations of the Review, we must equip people so that they can deliver this vision of how Scotland can best support children and young people in need of care and protection and their families. As the Review so aptly puts it ‘Scotland must hold the hands of those who hold the hand of the child’ in order to deliver the change that is necessary.
We are ready to hold hands and help make the vision a reality.