Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Next year's words? Children Protection in 2015

“For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."
(T.S. Eliot The Four Quartets - Little Gidding)”

The year’s end is a time for reflection and resolution. As yet another year of apparently knocking my head against a variety of walls without much success draws to a close, it might be tempting to think about throwing in the towel, or at least putting it down on a sun lounger somewhere warm.

The alternative is to review and simplify the messages in the hope that 2015 will be a year in which ‘the establishment’ has its metaphorical hearing aid turned on. Having thought about it over the holiday period I have managed to refine my wishes for child protection for 2015 to three. These are:

1) Focus on meeting the needs of abused and neglected children, not on the demands of regulators or politicians or civil servants or ‘experts’ or newspaper editors. Design systems and working practices which make it easier to learn more about the needs and preferences of abused and neglected children and young people. Motivate people to create new and more effective ways of meeting them.

2) Concentrate resources on doing only what is strictly necessary to satisfy those needs. Be ruthless in dismantling working practices and systems and management fads that consume resources but which deliver no tangible benefits. IT and paperwork should only exist to make practice easier and more effective, not to impede it.

3) Adopt a grown-up attitude to error. Recognise that doing complex things will always involve some errors. See error as an opportunity to learn, not as something to fear or as an opportunity to blame. Equip practitioners to understand, talk about and learn from their errors. Capture data about errors, both systematically and informally, and learn from it.

Happy New Year!