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Tue, 09 Jul 24 10:00

I'm a DCS...get me out of here!

Like me, many of you might be relieved that a serving MP wasn’t the winner of this year’s I’m a Celebrity, and you may also, like me, celebrate the fact that a national sporting heroine who also happens to be gay, won. What an incredible role model for young people and liberating to see a woman be her authentic self on national television (with a cockroach in her ear to boot). Of course if she were a male footballer in the England national team s/he might be a lot less comfortable wearing her proverbial heart on her sleeve at this years’ World Cup. Moments like this remind us all that social change is palpable but heavily context-specific.

We try to drive social change through our work with children and families every day but in the face of mounting and unparallel pressure. The implementation of the National Transfer Scheme (NTS) illustrates that all too well. Practitioners hold our feet to the fire to find the best and most faithful care support for our children who arrive unaccompanied but we’re operating in an environment where we’re often playing a game of top trumps with a diminishing external market, and we all know who wins that game. We know that time to learn and plan with young people is imperative in crafting good care plans, however, we are beholden to Home Office timescales and the resolutions to those young people’s asylum applications are usually a long way off. I hope that how well we implement the NTS is not the litmus test of our allyship and care for global majority children who find themselves far from home and family, and nor should it be the litmus test of how well we respond to a crisis. We know though that we could do so much better if we were seen as co-designers of the system with freedoms and flexibilities to collaborate and mutually problem-solve.

At the ADCS Annual Conference this July, Dez Holmes, from Research in Practice, gave directors of children’s services some feedback from our senior colleagues as part of her Wednesday afternoon emotive and punchy session on intersectionality. We talked about how much we value allyship and how we need more of that so that we can at least verbalise and articulate the lived experience of our colleagues who don’t see themselves reflected in management and leadership structures. Time is of the essence. If social change is palpable let’s ride the crest of that particular wave and let’s ask Government to co-invest in anti-oppressive and inclusive leadership training so that our leaders of the future reflect the communities that they seek to serve. Let us be our authentic selves, with or without the cockroaches. As the ADCS North East gang would say… gan canny marras.

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