Conference: The Place of Ethics in the History of Child Care

The Annual Conference of the Child Care History Network :

Toddington : 11 November 2009

The public has been more involved in child care issues in recent months than for many years. Cases which have hit the headlines such as Baby Peter and the two Doncaster boys have led to strong feelings about what should be done – with the children, with the parents, and with the professionals involved.

But the child care profession needs to do more than defend itself against attack. It needs to do some hard fundamental thinking about its role. What should the basis for our child care services be? What are the important concepts for the 21st century? Have we got the balance wrong? – for example in the primacy of the family, or should more children be taken into care, as Martin Narey, head of Barnardo’s, recently suggested? Should Social Workers have more powers? Do children’s needs come first, or have we created systems which give priority to finance or targets?

Over the years many different concepts have motivated workers and legislators – children’s rights, child protection, prevention, inclusion and two dozen others. Getting the right balance for the future is important, and studying history can give us a longer perspective in such a fundamental subject. Otherwise we risk drifting into re-inventing an outmoded concept.

Charles Sharpe has put an exciting programme together, featuring four excellent speakers from England, Ireland and Scotland :

–           Mark Smith of the School of Social Work at the University of Edinburgh,

–           Noel Howard, the past president of the Irish Social Care Workers Association,

–           June Jones of the School of Health and Population Studies at the University of  Birmingham,

–           Richard Rollinson, independent child care consultant

There will also be plenty of opportunities for delegates to join in the debate. Please come and let other colleagues and friends know about the event.

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