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By Debbie le Quesne

When reform really is a good thing

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The term ‘reforming care’ has come to mean many things for us – and sadly, they are not always good.

Over regulation, the mountains of paperwork, the never-ending issues with poor funding and the legal minefields of running any kind of care business can be daunting.

But sometimes, common sense and old-fashioned goodness prevail. Last night I watched the news and was heartened to hear that finally the government has published plans to combat the sexual exploitation of children in care homes in England by gangs.

The move, said the Beeb “acts on recommendations made by the deputy children’s commissioner in a report on sexual exploitation.”

It was the conviction this year of nine men in a child sex ring that sparked concerns about the safety of children’s homes. Nine men were jailed as part of a child sex ring in Rochdale, with one of the girls involved being in care.

Cheap properties in run-down areas have seen a glut of of care homes in Margate, Rochdale, Blackpool and Worthing appear.

With 2,074 registered children’s homes in England, it’s not before time measures are being brought in to restrict placing children in care outside their home boroughs.

The ‘out of sight, out of mind’ solution for problem kids is coming to an end. We all struggle with unruly children and how we reform their bad behavior is a huge challenge to social workers and other related agencies. But these children are vulnerable, often abused and often without any worthy parental support.

We have a moral and professional obligation to give them the best chances in life as possible.  Police figures show an estimate of 10,000 children a year missing from care every year. Disturbingly, the government data shows only 930.

New measures also include a revision of data collection, making it easier to see a ‘global’ picture of runaways numbers and a working group to consider:

  • Why some local authorities send children to homes outside their own
    • Whether such placements can meet children’s needs
    • How well the quality of care is monitored
    • Whether areas such as Rochdale are really the best “places for bringing up our most vulnerable looked after children”.

Home management, staffing and ownership are also to come under scrutiny.

The BBC reported: “That government report suggests growing evidence that children in care are particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation and that although most victims live in their family home, a disproportionate number are in residential care.”

I have no doubt at all that the vast majority of homes for children do an exceptional job.

But if we are going to maintain integrity within the care sector, we must do better.

Despair, abandonment, fear, worthlessness, and hopelessness . . . these are the words which are being banded about as officials refer to these tragic children.

The measures outlined by government are well overdue.

This kind of reform gets my unequivocal endorsement. For me, it serves to remind us that despite all of the awful things we have ever read about these kinds of children and the terrible legacies of abusive ‘care’ they carry to the grave, goodness can prevail.

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Written by debbielq

July 4, 2012 at 7:33 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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