An every day saga of life at Bluebrick Children’s Home
Among those involved are the following :
Young people : Jilly 16, Dwain 14, Nickki 14, Angi 13, Abdul, 14, Gary 12.
Staff : Manager : Sarah Deputy : Vinney
Residential social workers : Leroy, Janice, Stan, Karin, Claudia, Nick, Fran and Justin
“Here, Sarah, have you read this in the new National Framework Contact for Placement of Children in Children’s Homes?”, asked Vinney, somewhat mischievously.
“Leave off, Vinney”, sighed the Home Manager, Sarah, to her Deputy, “I can’t keep up with these Government edicts. When are we supposed to find the time to look after the kids… and read all these decrees?”
“Well, I haven’t read all of it, I must admit, but it’s the language that scares me. Listen to this:
‘The Service Specifications for care and education (Parts One and Two) form an integral part of the contractual arrangements of the National Framework Contact for Children’s Homes between the Purchaser and the Provider and set out the Service to be provided within an outcomes framework’”.
“Gosh, I see what you mean. Are they really talking about child care?”
“Go on, say it…’it wasn’t like this when I came into child care in 19 nought blot’”.
“Well, it wasn’t. I’m not saying it was all great then. We know it wasn’t, but where it was done well, it still had soul. Now the dead hand of bureaucracy seems to have taken over”, lamented Sarah.
“And the grasping hand of finance”, added Vinney.
“You mean the Purchaser and Provider bit? That makes me fell very uneasy. Look at what’s happened to us at Bluebrick. First the local authority says they are going to close us down and then they say they have saved the day by selling us to the Banjo Group. The Banjo Group sell us two years later to the PledgeGo company and I wonder how long they will hold onto us?”
“At least we get regular changes of headed note paper”, quipped Vinney.
“It isn’t funny, Vinney. This is kids’ lives and staff careers we are talking about and its all in the hands of a group of faceless shareholders or whatever!”
“I suppose that it’s a good thing that Government are trying to spell out clearly lots of the things we have been trying to achieve for years but not always clearly spelt out.”
“Well, it talks about ‘Placement Matching’. It says, ‘Only children who have been assessed as being likely to benefit from placement, both in relation to their assessed care needs, and where applicable their assessed educational needs, shall be eligible for the service’”.
“All very well”, replied Sarah, “but even when we had proper Assessment Centres and a wide range of choices we still couldn’t get it right, but now with a much smaller range of homes and schools to choose from, how many children actually are placed in the ideal home to meet their needs?”
“Anyhow, it’s time for the Young People’s Meeting and I’ve put some of this document on their agenda to see what they think,” said Vinney.
Vinney goes into the lounge where staff members Leroy and Karin are sitting chatting to a group of five young people.
“Cor, about time, init?”, says Dwain.
“Sorry about the short delay, everyone,” says Vinney.
The meeting then proceeded to consider the usual things such menus, outings, bedtimes and mobile phones.
“Now before we finish, I just want to hear what you think of the statements on that bit of paper I handed round at the beginning of the meeting”, said Vinney.
“Who, for example, knows what the Five Outcomes are?”
“Aren’t they number one in the charts at the moment with Making a Positive Contribution?” suggested Abdul with a chuckle, though no one else saw the joke.
“Good one, Abdul”, said Leroy, by way of encouragement.
“We got no idea what you are going on about, Vinney”, said Nickki.
“OK, well the Government passed this law called the Children Act 2004 Every Child Matters, and in it they said that, as a result of being in care, all children and young people should experience Five Outcomes.”
“Hang on, Vinney, what’s an outcome. ‘Come out’, I understand but outcome is that French for the same thing then?” queried Dwain.
“Don’t act on, Dwain, you know what I mean. An outcome is what results from a certain action being taken. You don’t look where you are going when you cross a road, the outcome can be that you get knocked down by a passing car. Get it?”
“So what are these outcomes again?” asked Jilly.
“1.Be Healthy. 2.Stay Safe 3.Enjoy & Achieve. 4. Make a Positive Contribution. and 5. Achieve Economic Well-Being”.
“Sounds boring”, observed Angi.
“Well, I agree it does not trip easily off the tongue, but when you look at it closer, it does seem to cover most areas of life in care, don’t you think?” asked Vinney.
“Go on then, give us an example”, suggested Dwain.
“Well, how about this suggestion from Outcome 3? ‘Children have pride in their Home environment’ It goes on to say that the home Provider – that’s us here at PledgeGo’s Bluebrick – should make sure that ‘Staff encourage children to contribute to household chores as appropriate’”.
“What, you mean scrub the floors and Hoover and things? That ain’t our job,” shouted Jilly angrily.
“Well, Jilly, don’t you agree with this next bit which says that ‘Children are encouraged to take pride in their living accommodation and to take responsibility for keeping their Home clean and tidy’”?
“No, I don’t. It’s not my bloody home. It’s where you lot make me stay instead of being with my Mum,” snapped Jilly.
“Anyone else any views?”
“Yer, I’m hungry”, said Gary.
“I think this topic of children and young people taking a pride in their home environment would be a good subject to discuss next time, and perhaps if that goes well we could look at other issues that this new Government document raises,” observed Karin.
“Yer and now its time for some incomes init?” quipped Abdul.
The National Framework Contact for Placement of Children in Children’s Homes can be viewed on; http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/_files/7333DCSFNatFramework.pdf