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Between Today and Yesterday

The President Alison Michalska has recently drawn attention to the parallels between the ADCS policy imperative ‘A Country That Works for all Children’ and ‘Every Child Matters.’ We seem to live in a world where collaboration and agreement has given way to binary and divisive positions – where agreeing with someone else’s view is seen as a sign of weakness, where discussion, debate and grown-up agreement are in short supply.

If we were to ask children and young people how they see the future, what would they say? Well Lisa and Latoya from the RECLAIM Project gave the ADCS conference in Manchester a glimpse into how the future could be. Their core agenda of hopeful politics and the power of young people collaborating for positive social change stood out as a beacon in an otherwise relatively bleak world. The messages around authentic and ethical leaders resonates with the DCS role, at its best.

It got me thinking about how DCSs and ADCS could promote, under the banner of ‘A Country That Works for all Children’, a baseline debate about a more equal society, with children’s voices at its heart. This could become an influential and indeed driving force for change. It reminded me of my time spent in the Netherlands last year where every school and social care service we visited had at its heart the voice and influence of children and young people. Indeed, the power of children is built into the Dutch approach and their influence on services was palpable.

If DCSs are to be influential in promoting collaboration we also need to be thoughtful about how we ‘make space’ for other voices. How can we collaborate with others to promote this agenda, can we listen intently and immersively as well as leading too. We need to create more reflective space with each other and be bold in our ambition for ‘A Country that Works for all Children’.

The Dutch consider ‘Every Child Matters’ to be the icon of child friendly and far reaching children’s legislation, so it was with some trepidation that I explained that it had passed from our statute books in the UK – they were at least as disappointed as we were! We have much to learn from international collaboration and learning and Alison Michalska is also building and developing those links.

We need to exert ourselves in pursuit of greater collaboration, less binary positions and a vision for our children, ADCS is well placed to be at the centre of the way forward.

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