In the last newsletter we announced a forthcoming conference on child migration in October 2012. We decided to hold it in Liverpool, partly because many of the children left for Canada and Australia from that port, and partly to be supportive to the National Maritime Museum, which had been planning an exhibition on the subject, which had been curated in Australia. In the event they could not afford to run the exhibition and so our conference became a stand-alone event.
The quality of speakers was excellent. Professor Roy Parker, one of our Patrons, spoke first, giving a brilliant analysis of the shipment of children to Canada. His paper is on the CCHN website. Margaret Humphreys CBE, on whose life the film Oranges and Sunshine was based, then spoke movingly about the work of the Child MigrantsTrust. Jim Hyland rounded off the morning with an account of the Roman Catholic Church's role in migration. After lunch there was a bonus speaker, John Hennessy, who was one of the boys who had been sent to Australia, and he told us that he had managed to make contact with his mother in England before she died, but that they had lost fifty years of family life in the interim. David Hinchliffe, who as MP and Chair of the Select Committee on Health had established a parliamentary inquiry into child migration, spoke of the blocks he had encountered in bringing matters to light, and the overwhelming interest he had met in visiting Australia. Following David's input there was a lively discussion session. Recordings of the talks are available on the CCHN website.
The setting in the National Maritime Museum was first-rate, and had been provided by the Museum free of charge. The only concern about the day is that it was attended by about 40 people and it could have been enjoyed by many more. It would help us tremendously in planning future events to have your feedback: if you weren't there, was it because of cost? Because of venue (is Liverpool just too far - in which case, where should events be held?)? Because of timing (what are best dates?)? Or subject matter? Or perhaps lack of publicity? - Please let us know.
The Board has been making enquiries and considering the pros and cons of establishing a journal on child care history. The main argument for it is that we have found no trace of any journal specifically on the subject anywhere in the world. Establishing a journal might also encourage people to take the subject more seriously.
The problem is finding enough good quality material to publish, and, of course, finding the time to seek out authors, encourage them to meet deadlines, edit and chase up. What the Board has concluded to date is that we may seek to set up a child care history section in an existing journal, and we are also gathering material to prepare a mock-up, to see what the journal might look like. Thoughts and input are very welcome.
Redaction of child care files
Documents are redacted so that readers do not have access to third party personal information, as laid down in the Data Protection Act. There are two main examples affecting child care records:
(a)if a former child in care sues a local authority for negligence, the file has often been redacted to cut out references to other members of the family;
(b)if a former child in care wants to see his/her records, the same may happen.
This is an issue which CCHN has come across in conferences and one on which the Care Leavers Association is lobbying, as the situation can at times be non-sensical, wasting the time of the staff doing the redacting, and irritating other parties. The main grounds for redaction appear to be that local authorities fear legal action under the Data Protection Act.
Fortunately a recent Appeal Court case (Durham v Dunn) came down on the side of non-redaction, which means that people considering suing local authorities about their care and their lawyers can read unredacted files. See, for example, discussions at http://www.dwf.co.uk/news/legal-updates/requests-for-disclosure-dpa-and-cpr-durham-county-council-v-dunn-2012 and http://swarb.co.uk/durham-county-council-v-dunn-ca-13-dec-2012/ .
Although this is a big step forward it still leaves former children in care unable to see their full files, often because their files applied to their whole families. CCHN has taken this matter up with Ministers, though it is still unresolved, and CLA is taking the lead from here on.
One way of understanding the implications of the way local authorities often apply the Act is that if the file were to contain family photos, the applicant could see pictures which only had him/herself on them. Pictures of the applicant with siblings could only be viewed with the siblings' agreement. Pictures of other family members without the applicant could not be seen at all; they are third party. Now apply the same distinction to written records. Nonsense, isn't it? Fortunately, practice is very varied - some authorities redact, some don't - and when they do it, it is usually done badly, so that one can often make out what has been obliterated. We have been arguing for minimum redaction - just cutting out highly confidential information which could cause harm if made more widely available.
Spring Conference 2013: 21 June 2013
Plans are now well in hand to hold the spring conference on 21 June 2013 in Toddington, Gloucestershire. You may think that June is really summer, but we have plenty of parliamentary precedent for letting things drift a little.
The planned theme is From Maria to Munro, with the main focus being on child protection and safeguarding. These have been dominant concepts in child care for the last forty years, but we need to be aware that historically there have been many different concepts which have motivated people to provide services to children, and many different perceptions of what childhood is about. The question we face now is whether these concepts are tired, whether they need replacing, and if so, in which direction should we go? As always, CCHN hopes to take a historical perspective but look to see how this may influence practice today and tomorrow.
AGM and Autumn Conference: 9 November 2013 (mark the date!)
"Radical Then, Radical Now: Care and Education in Communities. A reflective conference celebrating the centenary of the Little Commonwealth and Homer Lane." CCHN's Autumn conference will follow the AGM at 9.30, and will give delegates a unique opportunity to discuss and reflect on the past and future of residential child care and education on the site of one of the best known pioneering childrens' communities of the 20th century: indeed, among buildings built by Homer Lane and the children of the Little Commonwealth in Dorset between 1913 and 1918. The site is now home to Hilfield Friary, owned by the Anglican Society of St. Francis and a place of ongoing experiment in community living.
Michael Fielding, Emeritus Professor of Education, Institute of Education, University of London, who is "Well known for his work in the fields of radical education, student voice, school leadership and professional learning, Michael brings a perspective strongly influenced by person-centred, radical democratic traditions of publicly funded education. If we forget history or marginalise purposes we may get somewhere faster - but not where we need to go.
Emily Charkin, PhD student in the history of education at the Institute of Education in London. Emily has worked as a programme director at Common Purpose and researcher at the National Centre for Social Research, and is currently doing a PhD at the Institute of Education on children's educational experiences in collectives during the Spanish Civil War, and wider, related educational experiences.
Charles Sharpe, Former CCHN Board member, editor of the online Good Enough Caring Journal, a qualified psychodynamic counsellor and psychotherapist with over 25 years experience of therapeutic work with adults and young people, having trained and worked as a teacher in both day and residential schools and been a manager in residential child care settings in the public, voluntary and private sectors. Independent consultant, trainer and lecturer.
Judith Stinton, author of the 2005 "A Dorset Utopia: The Little Commonwealth and Homer Lane". The reviewer for Lib Ed called Dorset Utopia "an important book for anyone interested in the care of young offenders", while the reviewer for the Times Educational Supplement called it "an immensely readable account of a period during which unorthodox radical and democratic ideas were encouraged, paradoxically, by powerful and wealthy aristocrats...". Judith will take us on a tour of the Little Commonwealth buildings.
A Directory of Child Care Records
A year or two back we focused on the need for a directory or database of child care records and had discussions with the National Archive. Unfortunately, this idea has gone on to a back burner, but we hope to give it more priority this year.
Interestingly, the idea has been taken up in Scotland and CELCIS have been asked to initiate a project identifying where child care records are kept. Another case of the Scots being ahead of the English.
David Hinchliffe [see "Liverpool Conference", above] was invited to be a Patron of CCHN at the Liverpool Conference. We have been fortunate to have a series of eminent child care people as Patrons - Francis, Earl Listowel, Dame Gillian Pugh, Professor Roy Parker, and now David Hinchliffe. We make very few demands on their time, but their contributions as speakers or in giving advice has been both welcome and invaluable.
BBC 4 Documentary on History of Child Care
Blakeway Productions is working on a television documentary on the subject of child care in Britain since the Second World War for BBC 4. CCHN Chair David Lane has been consulted by Blakeway researchers, and Board member Zachari Duncalf has consulted and taken part in filming. Keep an eye out for her when the documentary is broadcast in May!
Call for papers: "Current residential therapeutic practice with children and young people"
The Mulberry Bush Organisation's CEO, John Diamond, is guest-editing a special issue of the journal Therapeutic Communities on the subject of "Current Residential Therapeutic Practice With Children and Young People" and has issued a call for papers "that demonstrate or debate the human experience of delivering therapeutic interventions with children and young people." The deadline for submissions is 30 June 2013, for publication in December 2013.
According to the call:
Therapeutic communities and therapeutic environments for children and young people are developing through a period of unprecedented change. However, the ‘core technology’ or the ‘agent of change’ that is central to successful outcomes for clients using these communities, and creates meaning for all those who engage with them, is the provision of a range of psychologically informed human relationships. These range from the ‘dyadic’ one-to-one, to the therapeutic group setting, often combining both within the overall planned environment.
This themed issue of Therapeutic Communities journal will give expression to the human experience of delivering this range of therapeutic interventions, and which will allow new perspectives, techniques and theoretical underpinnings to be explored and discussed.
Possible topics and themes could include (but are not limited to)
◦working with children with severe emotional and behavioural problems
◦group work with children with attachment disorders
◦involving CAMHS teams in working with mental health problems
◦residential treatment for children in care
◦working with attachment issues with looked-after children
◦providing education to emotionally troubled children
◦involving families in treatment
◦creating therapeutic environments for children and young people
◦evidencing excellent outcomes for children in care.
◦research and evidencing effective practice.