HOME FROM HOME

By Sean Geoghegan

In the hiatus, the await for the Care Review recommendations, and in response to the negative press around the use of residential care – it seems opportune for me to post this piece about the value of children’s homes. Both as a resource and to try to level up the arguments against them.

The recent Ofsted Report ‘Why do children go to children’s homes?’ that focused on residential care is welcomed – if only to divert thinking, negative largely, around the value of children’s homes by our public, policy makers and politicians. The same poor hegemony shared by the top tier architects of the current Care Review – with its family rights focus, zeal for kinship caring and its over reliance on and sadly, lack of critical perspective on upscaled fostering. Its overt bias against children’s homes as an option. Let me just say before I laud the opportunties that exist in State care children’s homes that I have no beef with foster care. Nor family rights and family ‘wraparound’ as I spent two years fighting for my own children in Family Court. And that I have no beef with kinship because after I left care I was kinship carer to my old younger brother.

What I resent is the absence of any deliberative discussion about good quality residential care. As a previous member of the EbE I can say with confidence that it was the cost implications of reviewing children’s homes within the Care Review that I feel stifled debate around them. That it was the cost implications that prevented an important sets of discussions needed to consider true ‘care’ value. One that vitally might also have included the need for mental health and trauma support that good ‘professional’ care might provide after family breakdown. What I want to share is that in my time in the EbE what I was witness to in the Care Review was a barrier, a theoretical bias against the very principle of State parenting that prevented the policy makers (running the show) from embracing the prospect of and the potential for good residential care.

I want to say on a personal note that depite my own dire experience in a community home in Islington in the 1970s I feel, if done right residential care can transform the lives of children coming into it. If you will allow me, I want to outline here why I think that children’s homes can form a vital part of a redesigned approach to the care system. To offer some points that might hopefully reinvigorate that conversation.

My story

It takes a village, according to the Nigerian proverb – to raise a child. I was five years old when I was transported out to the Essex countryside to an industrial sized children’s home. The eldest of four wee boys with a Scots brogue and ill-equipped parentage. The clothes were hand-me-downs. They had the scribbled in names of other kids in them. On white cotton tags stamped with the initials LCC. The London Country Council managed all the children deposited by or taken from parents across East and North London and transported us to a vast complex called the Hutton Poplars Residential Training School.

There were twenty-five huge children’s homes arranged around a large central green. Massive red brick houses, named alphabetically after English rivers. Me and my brothers were reunited at Fal House, after our youngest finally joined us from the Baby Unit. The fully self-contained community had its own store, a school, a farm, a gymnasium and even an indoor swimming pool. The bell tower of the Central Dining Hall was inscribed as 1906. That date stamp represented the first overview, or context I ever had into my own childhood. Evidence of the Victorian politicians who had constructed the vast village children’s home. Social Reformers who sought to deliver the waifs and strays from the ghettos of East London, beyond the corruption of the city, into training schools and the fresh air of the countryside. Effectively removing them from the very communities and predatory adults that were destructive to their well-being in the first place. Settings like this one were dotted around every major city in the country. London had five of them. Institutions of such magnitude that were capable of housing anything from 400 – 700 children at any one time. Offering a gated community with smaller family orientated children’s houses where the House parents (usually married) acted like Aunties and Uncles.

The negative impact of ‘institutional’ care is well documented. The unaccountable sadistic regimes, casual levels of child abuse and neglect, over-harsh punishments, the racism and imbedded paedophilia that has decimated so many lives of our elderly care experienced community. My own experiences – at the hands of a psychotic House parent who doled out cruel sadistic punishments – was terrifying. Life in care, up until I was eight was a torment. Not at all what the home’s founders had imagined – a safe country setting with Christian guidance, an emphasis on recovery and resilience, providing a different kind of family, where children could do more than just survive but were provided with opportunities to thrive.

That bastard House Father never came back from his holidays – much to our delight. And my  own world was magically transformed by the husband and wife replacement Houseparents Uncle Jim and Aunty Jean. It was under their tutelage and love that Fal House and the oversized Children’s Village would become what I regarded as my home. And with their help  I found a new sense of pride, of purpose and also of identity there.

Looking back I realise that we were heavily invested with social capital. Music lessons, sports activities, walks and runs and outings. We had Cubs and Brownies. There were yearly inter house competitions with silverware as prizes. Huge village events; Bonfire Nights, Harvest Festival, summer fetes where we were open house for the local community. The Housefather held his own mini competitions at dinner tables where we were quizzed about Continents, Countries and capital cities of the world. I can still reel off the county capital towns of England. At eleven years of age, I felt – after a horribly abusive start  – physically loved, hugged when I needed comforting. Yes there were rules to obey. But there was continuity, the Staff members were, for the most part, consistent across the lifetime of our care. There is one House Mother from Humber House who still retains lifelong support fifty years later today to those (elderly now) who were children in her care.

The regular visits to our own swimming pool – a beautifully tiled domed oasis – led me to join a local club, that also practised there every evening. I attended galas with Brentwood Swimming Club right across the South East every Saturday. I loved those coach journeys, the sing-songs, that special sense of comradery. I loved the bellowing support from my fellow team mates who would chant my name, that I could hear when I lifted my head for air when I was in a race, swimming. I became regional champion and even swam once for England.

Both Houseparent’s shared a talent for spotting the true potential of each child. With help from my Teacher, the kindly Sister Raphael I passed my eleven plus. Uncle Jim argued strongly for me at my interview at Grammar School. The Headmaster however was firmly against giving me a place. Too much homework he said. So the Housefather transformed an old cloakroom into a study and I became one of the first children from that home to make it into grammar school. I felt for the first time in my life a deep connection with everything around me; the love I got from the House parents Jim and Jean, appreciation from the other children in the home and love and respect from my siblings; who I knew were well protected. I took enormous pride in my new school uniform, the badge on the cap, the Catholic grammar school that had very high expectations of me. I felt a great connection with my class mates and their parents – whose homes I would visit. Each Sunday after mass I would chat with Father Barrow, the Priest at Saint Joseph’s where I was an altar boy and felt a new kind of relationship; a spiritual connection. I would visit a local elderly couple for tea – who were like grandparents to us. Such inter-generational connections albeit routine for most children helped me see life as if raised in a family.  A set of relationships that are especially critical for a child in care. 

Community Care.

In my second year of Secondary School I was suddenly removed from all of that. My three brothers and I became one of the first families to be relocated into an inner London ‘community’ children’s home. A spit level concrete box, set in a concrete urban ghetto.

It was the 1968 Report of the Committee on Local Authority and Allied Personal Social. Services, led by Frederic Seebohm that saw me removed from my home life, stripped me of my identity and friends and dropped me into the ‘local community’. The trouble was that it wasn’t my local community. And given the run-down area where it was built – and the type of people employed to Staff it – it proved to be an extremely dangerous place for me and my siblings to be in.  

The ‘Seebohm Report’ was a commissioned Governmental Report that set itself against ‘institutional’ care of the Industrial type. It determined that Local Authorities should assume control of children. That small group homes were to be designed, imbedded within the locality, that would keep us close to family relations and retain/build those social networks seen as vital for a child. It also established the very first Social Services departments to be set up in every Local Authority. And it brought the modern day Social Worker into being. Sadly,  as evidenced brilliantly by Ed Nixon the new workforce to run these little homes was a largely untrained and proved to be extremely incompetent – as proxy parents. They also harboured some of the worst elements that were attracted to the new ‘small scale’ homes. They were a million miles away from the ‘family style’ safe environment I had known, and appreciated as a small child in residential care.

The ‘swing’ in social policy away from Institutional care towards local community and networks was perceived as absolutely the right thing to do at the time but it’s implementation highlights the complete lack of awareness that a general policy has on a child’s special needs, in my case my own individual requirements and to date experience.

It was the Children in Care and Children’s Act 1975 that introduced specific new duties for the care experiencing (or those faced with adoption or care proceedings) – that all parties must for the first time ‘ascertain the wishes and feelings’ of young people. The ‘fashion’ of the day was clearly moving against parental rights (often unfairly targeted as potential abusers) and favouring trustworthy (?) State management; which only added to the complexities:

..securing the child’s welfare is now the dominant aim of child law, there is no shortage of persons claiming authority to decide where a child’s welfare lies. Nowhere is this more true than where a child comes to the attention of the welfare authorities. Children in Care Act 1975

The facts is, that no-one really gave a damn about children’s rights at that time in care. And the overall experience of community care in the 1970s, 80s and 90s would prove to be an absolute disaster for so very many of us. An annihilation of so many childhoods. Local Authorities keen to recruit Staff to a high ratio of children were infiltrated not just by the untrained but by predatory child sexual abusers. Our new Local Authority ‘parents’ having rejected the old ways of the institutions were sadly ill equipped to take the job on themselves. No more Aunty and Uncle. No physical activities or harsh regime but an emphasis on the internal, the mental impact of our incarceration. Reviews were way over our heads. And out of bounds. Files were full of psychological bullshit, false narratives created, Staff existed on a merry-go-round.

We kids were left rudderless, with no sense of ourselves and all prior connections we had built that were our own were terminally disrupted. Just as there were good Staff to be found in Institutional settings, so there were some excellent Staff who strove to bring the right conditions into this new type of care. If they were exceptional then they hardly ever lasted the course.

Child Care policy – the penduluum effect.

At the end of the 1990s almost all Local Authority children’s homes were phased out and fostering became the norm.  A financial win win for Councils able to sell of prime real Estate that was skilfully repositioned as good social policy. I recall in my advocacy work at NAYPIC (the National Association of Young People In Care) whole children’s homes being shut down even with their occupants still in them. Those who objected found themselves in a police cell whilst their belongings were removed and the home boarded up. Where once residential care was the flagship of State parenting it had become an embarrassment and a costly one too. Mass homes closure not only brought in revenue from the sale of central London properties but it cutely also curtailed the date on all future compensation claims. The paedophile scandals within Local Authority children’s homes created a major drive away from residential care that exists to this day. Another reason why residential care is tarnished as an option. The current payment scheme being offered by my Local Authority (Islington Council) for abuse victims in care homes dates only up until 1995 and not beyond. It deosn’t cover foster care either.

This swinging to and back – from State management to family intervention and community engagement – took a further spin in my own lifetime following the infamous Baby P disaster. Peter Connelly (also known as Baby Peter) was a 17-month-old who died after suffering more than fifty injuries over an eight-month period at his home in Haringey, London. Over the same period, he was repeatedly seen by the Children’s services and NHS health professionals. But this same London Borough had already failed seven years earlier in the case of Victoria Climbié. During her abuse, Climbié was in kinship care and had been burnt with cigarettes, tied up for periods of longer than 24 hours, and hit with bike chains, hammers and wires. Her death led to a public inquiry that resulted in measures being put in place in an effort to prevent similar cases happening. A few years later Daniel Pelka was added to the lengthy list of child deaths at home where it was also evident that a number of opportunities had been missed to identify him as suffering severe parental child abuse. The outcomes for the services following these abuses and deaths is that referrals began flooding in as other Agencies classified even more cases as child protection, terrified of missing “another Baby P”. But this was also nothing new. Maria Colwell was murdered in 1973 by her step father in Brighton and Darryn Clarke – was murdered in Liverpool in 1978 by his mother’s partner.

As Ed Nixon, ex Social Worker, puts it “there was a different focus in children’s social care as a consequence of the increasingly and rightly high profile ‘avoidable’ deaths (one) that did at least lead to greater levels of intervention by Social Services Departments which in turn led to children being removed from their parents care at an earlier age in the lead up to the Children Act 1989.”

There was the exact same explosion of outrage back in that time as we see today (pre-social media of course) over the ‘case” (how I hate that term) of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson. The media attacks on social work for those to blame for missing numerous occasions children and babies are murdered by their abject parent figures. The usual platitudes of ‘never to forget’ and needing to ‘learn’ from it. But of course, we have already forgotten little Lily-Mai, Alicia Watson and Ella-Rose who are also recent very young victims of carer murder. There will be new names to add to that list after this paper is written and read.

Including the case of a teenager accused of murdering a five-year-old boy. The body of Logan Mwangi was found in the River Ogmore in Sarn, Bridgend, last July with 56 injuries. His killer has been described as “a monster”. The court heard the boy spoke of killing people and said he wanted to kill Logan shortly before his death. Logan was ‘treated like disposable rubbish in life and in death’, the jury at his murder trial was told. The 14-year-old boy, Logan’s mother Angharad Williamson, 30, and his step-father John Cole, 40, all denying his murder.

Or three-year-old Kemarni Watson Darby who was found lifeless by paramedics at his home in West Bromwich, was taken to hospital, but pronounced dead that same evening. A man and his partner found guilty of murder and causing or allowing the death of her son. The four-month trial heard how Kemarni was repeatedly assaulted by his mother and her partner. Significantly the trial also heard that Kemarni had expressed a wish not to go home to his mother’s flat after visits with his father. So his wishes and feelings, freely expressed, were ignored.

Child Protection.

The fact is that whilst ‘lifelong links’ prove invaluable for many with care experience and should be resourced fully what we don’t hear too much about are those who choose to leave their childhood homes, or enter care with toxic, narcassitic and dangerous family members. And we fail them when we dont include them in the solutions around how best to care for them.

The unsavoury fact is that domestic homicides rose from 16 in 2019 to 22 last year. Of those 12 were children aged 12 years or younger, where the suspect was a family member, usually a parent or guardian. And just as there is a sizable response from the public, media and politicians so there has always been equally so in the past. And then the forgetting moves in. And after a rush of public outcry and the additional workloads this bring to our social workers the ‘swingometer’ of social policy – having jumped towards child protection retreats slowly back to parental support away from the severity that is percieved then as State intervention. Because the State has become synonymous with overbearing anti-family draconian power and little is lft to work with that will see any improvement in the provision of the State to care more effectively for those who will always need it. Because State care must be ‘bad’ care. Whilst the constant demonising of the care experience is just one of the many ideological imperatives that has unfortunately altered the effectiveness of a balanced-out child protection approach – of placing children’s needs, their wishes and feelings central at all times. The massive and understandable knee-jerk reaction to such horrendous acts as child deaths at home flying in the face of effective social work or the potential to learn and improve in practise. It is an emotional juggernaut – practically unstoppable.

One of the central arguments of the book ‘Scandal, Social Policy and Social Welfare’ by Mark Drakeford and Ian Butler is that it is abhorrent events such as parental child abuse and murder that has played a major part in the constant reshaping of British welfare policy.

“Across the broad sweep of history, it is possible to pick out critical moments or turning points that seem to represent some qualitative shift both in thinking about welfare and in welfare practices. Often these do occur in close proximity to a welfare scandal..”

Following the Baby P case, a 40% increase in the number of children were subsequently taken into care by the State to reach a level of 70,000 children being ‘looked after’ in the system. The severe clamp down on parental care saw Social Workers characterised as incompetent child snatchers. And much like today, accused of focusing way too much on following procedures rather than what would most make a difference to children. Critical reaction was that too many assessments were carried out to no real purpose other than ensuring services appeared to be “fully covered if something, anything, went wrong”. Social workers were also said to be working “doubly hard” when supporting families where child protection concerns existed. The pendulum had firmly swung, decidedly, back towards State measures and control. As it is prone to.

Consider then – social policy for children in the care system as essentially fashion. I say that as one who has personally lived through it. Having grown up within touching distance of those early Victorian Reformers driven to clearing the streets of child prostitutes and beggars. Bold visionaries who crusaded for a brave new world for orphaned and abused children. Rallied against child death, brutality and poverty – believing that the State held the answers to poor and dangerous parenting. I was then placed as a teenager, by the policy makers of that day determined to undo everything that their predecessors held scared. That would emphasise – not the effectiveness of good State provision – but in the modern parlance (already old policy recommendations) of retaining children in community and family settings, reducing numbers of entrants into care, more fostering, improved social work training, lower caseloads, improved use of assessment tools and a rethink of social work training.

The Policy penduluum

As a policy maker in children’s services I would suggest that is as well to be aware of the cyclical nature of ALL previous Reviews and recommendations. One of the early pronouncements from the current Care Review was that were “increasingly adversarial relations” between parents and the State.  But we all know that’s nothing new; those tensions have been there since its very inception, there has always existed tension between State and parent in the care system. It is built into the model. Something we see played out disastrously in our Family Courts – which are totalitarian in miniature. Grotesque in the daily injustices that are carried out daily, within them. We must support families at times and yet never forget the awful potential for ‘birth’ families, kinship carers, adopters as well as Foster parents and Residential staff to wreak havoc on a child. That the main mechanism to support them aside from good social work practise and provision is for a child to know what its rights are and to have the opportunity to be able to express them and for those views to be acted upon.

It is an unfortunate side story that the emphasis on having a ‘family’ is at the denigration of State ‘care’ which has struggled constantly ever since those early days to recover from a tarnished image. Ever since it first interceded into the poor affairs of impoverished families and took on the assumed role of Corporate Parent back in Victorian England. When the parents of ‘othered’ children lost their rights and their obligations and the State and/or Charities (without accountability) were able to do with children as they wished. Some say it is still like that – to our everlasting cost.

As one who experienced abuse in community children’s homes I am not a fan of Local Authority provision but I can still believe in the possibility of a better system in care even within it. The concern sadly under this Care Review has not been how we can reimagine and radically reform State care for children – and possible even return it to its initial positive principles – but its acceptance of the eternal ineffectiveness of State Parenting as an ideal in itself. The lacklustre thinking around this question – that it is actually possible, appropriate and of course affordable.

The trouble is that ‘family’ based care is a narrative that cuts both ways. A double edge that suggests not just that birth family are the ‘for real’ family but that they are somehow preferred or ‘better’. And that any alternatives like a foster family or adopted parentage is the next best thing. That State care or residential homes – will always be a hotbed of abuse, a source of County lines and encourage prostitution – and are to be avoided at all costs. Not a positive message for those who will by necessity have to be cared for and who may want to choose a residential communal setting within the system. Not a view we want to share with the wider public either. That residential care is the worst last option. If stigma flowers then this sort of attitude is where it stems from.

But what of those who are unsafe at home, need refuge or respite in care, cannot settle in foster homes or who are just unhappy in that space or feel unsuited to it? Nor can we ignore those unaccompanied asylum seekers, teenagers often placed in unregulated care, who are 1000’s of miles away from home and trusted relationships like family, friends and school. Is the alternative for them to provide new networks of a similar kind? Or to be left like the vast majority of us to ‘sink or swim’. An actual child care policy too at one time.

The fact is that there’s a high degree of us (ex-care) who were badly let down by our immediate and our extended families. That may also have been ostracised or who fled from their original ‘communities’. Or who choose or prefer not to belong to it. The story of Hackney Child who at just nine years old arrived at Stoke Newington Police Station with her two younger brothers, demanding to see their social worker. She had decided it was no longer safe to live at home. the amazing care experienced author and socila worker Jenny Molloy spent much of the remainder of her childhood in residential care which she now famously decribes as a “positive thing”.

Whilst many of us may benefit from it there will also be those us who are not suited or keen on reunification or ‘lifelong links’ with those who abandoned us and who we choose not to love. Some us may also prefer to reimagine our lives. To move onwards and forge new relationships. Placing Care Leavers into so called ‘community’ settings they are at odds with as evidenced on Care Leavers Rock (FB page) has proved to be a disaster to many care experienced people. With zero choice in housing, often stuck in dangerous neighbourhoods, many feel threatened and abused. Our very elderly care experienced people are bullied or harassed, scared to go out – unable to move because they are not assessed as trauma impacted and treated wrongly just like any other member of the public seeking a transfer. Our community have been allocated the worst types of housing in the worst areas and are expected to act happy about it. The community for many can be the very place that they need to escape from. Family can also be the last place of call for so many.

We have to fully recognise there are those young people and children who will always need to come into a State Care system who might do better in or prefer residential care settings. Who may be in need of special guidance, discipline and support. We should not talk about them as ‘having to’ come into care. But on being welcomed into it.

There currently appears to be growing support (online enthusiasm) towards those Local Authorities starting to build their own children’s homes again. This, in obvious opposition to the obscene levels of expenditure that benefits only the shareholders of those companies. The chickens have certainly come home to roost for all those Local Authorities in a tearing hurry to sell off their residential assets back in the 1990’s and who are now being fleeced because of it. They saw the profit signs themselves in down grading the care provision in their locality in favour of the income from selling of prime real estate in prestigious neighbourhoods. These are the same Boroughs that are having to rebuild them now. 

The State must step up to the plate when it either removes a child or it has to take it on. It’s no good pointing at the rest of Society to take on something that the State isn’t also prepared to do too and to its very best. For a State-run service to put its resources and place the emphasis on birth parents or kinships as preferable or as ‘best practise’ is to create a new kind of stigma. One that impacts on those who are unable to form those family bonds due to severe abuse or prefer a life in care to one with parents who cannot or will not invest in its young people. State care is not to be treated anymore as a lesser form of parenting. With highly trained professions and the best forms of practise, our Society should be able to give a child in care at the very least a better standard of life, and more – an opportunity to transform their situation. And for those who advocate that what our young people really need is love: of course that’s true but even if we could facilitate it (and we should try) love is not all a child needs.  

Roots and wings

No-one cannot legislate for even one loving relationship for every child. Not in a system that currently cannot even guarantee everyone a safe or a steady home. Especially within a service that is unable to retain some of its best people. And it is as a parent (and not just as care experienced professional) that I can tell you that love maybe an imperative but it is also not nearly enough to raise a child. Certainly not one who has experienced abuse or abandonment. The Review will most certainly have to endorse trauma informed practise for all those who are tasked with caring for or supporting care experienced people (of any age). And whilst relationships and connections are indeed vital for a child or young person in care they must also include the ability to feel secure in the world, and most especially to be able to develop love and confidence in themselves.

Young people and children in care undoubtedly fall behind in education and socially too.  Creating a tick box of numbers is not solely the answer here. There needs to be a drive both for higher aspirations and for the accumulation of social capital. Something that the middle class know all too well. The kind of activities that has the potential to power a person through adversity. The accumulation of social capital and all that derives from it can be a true indicator of ‘independence’. Talent capitalisation. Empowerment is part of that thinking. Stepping back and allowing rather than over seeing. The basis for this has to set early on. An ownerhip of ones own ‘care’. Ones own life trajectory. But a greater support network of ‘family’ or community can exist within (and not just outside of) the care experience. We can create networks – that need to be resourced and effective.

I am definitely not advocating for industrial sized children’s homes but I would argue for some of those transferable positives that will complement and supply the love that is fundamental to every child. Like the principle of inter-generational living, set within a unique place where a child feels ‘special’ or a part of something larger than themselves. In America, a new movement seems to have taken that idea on, in a multi-generational village where a large number of Foster kids are raised together. Housing communities made up of children and their foster families along with older (post 55) adults. Siblings are kept together. There are various on-site services to aid residents in creating their own support networks. Social workers act as facilitators, coaches, and trauma-informed counsellors for residents, with a primary focus on helping children heal. There are intergenerational art and other classes, weekly community dinners, and a community garden, where young and older residents can meet and strengthen ties.

Dr. Mariela Neagu a Children’s Rights specialist in her latest work ‘Conceptualising Care in Children’s Social Services’ argues that good quality residential care such as boarding schools can provide suitable care and help many children fulfil their potential. Her belief is that a ‘rights’ based approach and meaningful consultation with the care experienced community would help prevent child abuse – ironically the main reason why they were closed down. This new sort of provision would prevent the foster care system being under such huge pressure and improve quality. What is true is that the current system is disempowering and demeaning for children and their families. Homes like this can provide stability and help children stay in touch with their families, keep siblings together, foster peer support and solidarity, providing good quality education and allow Children’s talents to be nurtured.

The cardinal principal of the 1989 Children’s Act is that the welfare of the child is paramount. That children need to be involved in the decisions that affect their lives. But they very clearly are not. Certainly not about how they hope to be brought up and in what kind of setting. It is vital that those in care have their say at all times going forward. And that includes at entry or precurement stage. Where a young person can help determine what may best suit their needs. That they are able to defer ongoing the requirement of family engagement and even of foster care should they choose to do so.

We urgently need a reimagined and renewed approach to children’s social care right across the country. And an extensive and informed debate around what children’s homes, and other provision, should look like and how they should be run. If a Regional concentration of resources or what a National Care Service might look like. Whatever the direction, the State needs to be primed – countrywide – to deliver a first-class support role to children and young people in care with a positive, therapeutic (not necessarily quasi-parenting) experience. The details of which should see us developing a nurturing safe environment for those who need or want it. A supportive structure with a diversity of people in situ to allow a variety of differing types of relationships.

A home from home that has sky high expectations and where children are given rules to live by. Gifted with love but also a sense of duty and a set of responsibilities. One that encourages every child to follow their own particular course and to dream large. Whose emphasis is on nurture and gained social capital. Challenges that are presented that will add to each child’s own inner CV. A facility that is sensitive through trauma informed practise. That will support culture and identity. Prepare for the stigma and the barriers that will undoubtedly come. And just in case none of the above works for whatever reason for even a single child, and because it will also elevate them – that places children’s rights front and centre at every point along the care continuum.

There is a Sudanese proverb that says: We desire to bequest two things to our children – the first one is roots; the other one is wings. We are let our children down if we solely concentrate on the roots – lest we forget that we also need to elevate our children and give them the wings they need to fly.

Thank you for listening xxx

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