Monday, October 30, 2006

Lewisham bravely encourages social care practices for children
Lewisham Council is showing commendable support for a new idea of looking after children in care using GP surgery-like practices. Run by the private and volunteer sectors, they would ultimately take over from local authorities. But others in the State system of looked-after children do not welcome the proposal.

Alastair Pettigrew, Lewisham’s director of children's social care says, “Looked-after children need and want someone to confide in and it is disrespectful to them that we create organisations that result in those people continually changing. We have to learn from GP practices where people remain in place." However, this idea is criticised by his fellow practitioners who seem more concerned with loss of corporate control and staff migration to such entities.

It seems to me that some bureaucrats have lost sight of what is truly important: Children in care need responsible adults that will stick around; it’s the next best thing they can have after dedicated carers. If the private and volunteer sectors are good enough to operate homes, then give them the opportunity to offer a better service at the sector level. Look at the track record of State-controlled care: Up to one-third of people in prison spent time in institutions at some point in their childhood. They could hardly make it worse…

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