Monday, 16 February 2009

Children in care bashabout

With local elections on the way, you could bet on a political row to spice things up. This time its about children in care and the apparent lack of action in the years since the publication of the report into children in care in Thanet way back in 2005. The report was scathing about it and described a community at "tipping point". In response to Cllr Chris Well's comments on the situation and calling for more action not words in this weeks Kent on Sunday, fellow County Cllr Clive Hart has taken offence, accusing him of jumping on the issue for political purposes and claiming the credit for himself (something I havent really noticed despite living in Cliftonville for not far off 3 years).

My concern is that with this turning into a "who was there first" argument, the serious issue behind it will be lost. I remember just before the report was published being shown the preface to it and told that "finally we can do something about it". Since then its fair to say not an awful lot has been done. As I have said in previous posts here, these are very vulnerable people with futures dependent on the provision they receive.

Its all well and good highlighting the issue and complaining about the lack of action but what exactly can be done? Laura Sandys has spoken about appealing to London boroughs and the Mayor of Landon not to send more our way and yet I doubt little will change by asking nicely. Some have indicated that sending them back to their previous local authorities will deal with the problem. It may well be out of sight and thus perhaps out of mind but you would have washed your hands of it without actually dealing with the actual problem. If the children are in Thanet then surely we have a duty of care to ensure the best interests of the child are taken at all times.

I'd like to know who is ensuring that the children in care in Thanet are actually building a future. Is it not possible for a TDC Cabinet member to add to their responsibiliities an overwatch function for children in care? On this issue I would suggest the Cabinet member for Community Services, in this case Cllr Zita Wiltshire. As far as I know this is done solely at County level, which doesnt help much given KCC interest appears to stall when they get to Canterbury. Surely this is something where TDC can step in and work more effectively with KCC to improve things.

The numbers entering the care system are increasing substantially since Baby P and it is absolutely essential that a proper strategy be in place. Many in Thanet may not like the children in care being here, but here they are and we must do all we can to provide for them. The cost of failure is simply too high to just ignore our responsibilities.

1 comment:

chris wells said...


i am nit interested in the who was there first debate, or the yah boo responses. I wanted to highlight the lack of coordinated action by many of those agencies responsible for this area of work. There has been a slowing, almost to complete stop of trying to influence placing authorities, and the upsurge in care orders, inevitable defensive practice following Baby P will only strain things further as all authorities find themselves short of places. It is a good time to remind people of the issues, before any surge in placements happens.