Last week’s blog from Alison Michalska, ADCS Vice President, got me thinking about change within ADCS and our world of children’s services.

Those of you who read Alison’s blog will know that the Association turns ten years old this year. Since its creation, there have been eleven serving Presidents including myself (in the first year there was a joint Presidency) and Alison will be the twelfth. Whilst there has been change in the leadership of ADCS over the years, the common thread that links us all together is our unequivocal commitment to championing children and young people’s needs, advocating for them and improving their outcomes. One of the privileges of being the President is that you can champion issues close to your heart and for me this has been challenging the negative views people have of the care system. For my predecessor, Alison O’Sullivan, it was improving support for care leavers. And I’m afraid you’ll have to wait and see what our soon-to-be President chooses!

Children and young people themselves tell us that care can, and does, make a positive difference to their lives. All of us will have stories of a child or young person in care that sticks in our mind. A child who overcame adversity and went on to realise their ambitions. Or a child who worked hard and achieved good educational progress despite their difficult life experiences. It is good news stories like these that help me get up each day and face the many challenges of the job. But despite this, there remains a negative and harmful narrative of the care system that is unfair to children in care, those caring for them and working to support them.

Last year ADCS began its #changingthenarrative campaign which aims to produce a counter-narrative to this. We asked children and young people in care and care leavers to tell us their views about the care system and who has made the biggest difference to them. We used their contributions to produce a video and regularly post their entries on the ADCS Twitter page. This has been well-received and we’ve had some good engagement so far but there is still more to do. And although this campaign started during and has run throughout my Presidency it is something that I would like to see continue in 2017 and beyond.

Sharing good news stories through your children in care councils on Twitter and using #changingthenarrative is just one of the ways that people can get involved. This is why I’m asking everyone in the children’s sector and beyond to get behind this campaign so that together we can make a real difference and change the narrative.

Together we can.

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