Trauma is in the nervous system – not in the event. Trauma is in the child – not in dreadful happenings of the past. Trauma lives on, impacting on the child and all those who parent and care for the child, especially the child’s primary caregivers. Raising a traumatised child is one of the hardest roles one could ever undertake in life – but it is also one of the most important to support. We hold the key to a child’s future.
These are some of the changes that we feel are needed:
- We would like to see co-production in place, and to be recognised as experts by experience.
- We would like to see a Permanence Board with experts by experience involved at a decision making level on this board.
- We would like to be part of any change, to be able to have dialogue about it, and to be able to participate in research that will potentially lead to needs driven support and services.
- We would like to be described with language and terminology that is appropriately sensitive towards our children and us.
- We would like to see transparency, true partnership working and proper sharing of parental responsibilty if our children cannot live within their permanent family.
- We need continuity of care, crisis support and expert assessment. We need assessment that leads to help.
- We would like a system where there can be learning from failure and where problems and difficulties that should never have happened can be thought about with us. Often, despite all the intervention that is available, our children must re-enter care. In this situation we can be made to feel a sense of failure as parents and permanence care givers. We have not failed just because our children cannot safely live with us. We are still families.
- We would like to see the term ‘child re entering care’, instead of ‘disruption’. True disruption, where parents/permanence caregivers and child want nothing more to do with each other does happen – but it is rare. Using the term disruption for all our families, regardless of the circumstances, when our children go back into care prematurely (as has happened after the Selwyn Report), is causing problems for us. We are being written off as a failed care option instead of being seen as a family enduring a difficult care separation from their child(ren).
- We would like parity for all providing permanent families for children who cannot live with their birth parents. We do not wish to see discriminatory policies – we fully support the Lack of LAC campaign, which was started by our members.
- We would like support funding that is easily and quickly accessible in times of need.
- We would like statutory regulation of financial support for special guardians and adopters.
- We would like to see an assessment of a child’s and family’s needs at placement -by a paediatrician and psychiatrist, with recommendations that are followed through.
- We would like to see an end to unjust school exclusions and offloading. See our report on School Exclusion
- We feel help seeking needs to be safe. We are meant to be part of the solution not viewed as part of the problem. We would like to see an end to costly adversarial court proceedings where ambiguous and problematic thresholds are used against parents and primary caregivers providing permanence to children who cannot live with birth parents.
- We need recognition and legislatory support for the parenting/caring from a distance role. See our ‘Working Together’ report.
- We need support that is family centred. Secondary trauma is very common for us. We would like to see whole family support not division of parent and child and interventions that come between us. We need better understanding about the fact that that our stress and emotional health is interwined and connected to that of our children. When they are stressed we get stressed to and vice versa.
- We do not want to have to make our children ‘looked after’ to access respite. This doesn’t work for them or us. We also need to be able to talk about reunification if our children must live apart from us.
- We would like to be able to talk about problems rather than have to make formal complaints, which may put us in a position of conflict with far more powerful agencies, organisations and institutions – investigating their own practices. They may not see things from our perspective and fail to appreciate the difficulties they have caused for us. Almost 40% (146/389) of respondents had cause to make a formal complaint in our Health and Wellbeing Survey see page 41 of Interim Report. This high level of complaints shows that something is going wrong.
- We would like improved recognition and much better support of trauma related neuro-disability and sensory processing difficulties such as autism and FAS.
- We see a need for more rigorous policy evaluation of policies such as the Adoption Support Fund – which we feel needs renaming. We feel this fund should be available to all adoptive and special guardianship families, regardless of whether the child was previously looked after, or lives away from their family.
- We need better support for us and our children as they transition to adulthood. The role of parenting or caring for a child may continue for far longer when a child has suffered early life trauma and loss.
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