CCCF Reporting

On 24 April 2007, the Christian Child Care Forum held its Sixth Annual Forum.

Baroness Valerie Howarth of Breckland welcomed people to the Forum. She spoke of children and childhood being on the political agenda in a wholly new way; not just as a reaction to scandals, and of the need for more strategic thinking about the sort of world we are seeking and creating for our children. She then highlighted the Christian Child Care Forum’s commitment to its vision of contemporary society, in which children and young people have a rightful place.

Tim Jeffery spoke about The nature of Christian organisations, starting by talking a little bit about Spurgeon’s history. He then went on to ask the question, “What makes a Christian Organisation?” A number of points arose from this question, including, “Does everyone have to be Christian?” “Are we trying to convert service users?” “Is it just a part of history?” Tim talked about what a Christian organisation does and does not mean, from his point of view, and how Every Child Matters changes the focus.

Mary Hawes talked about Good news from theology, church and practice. In principle, she said, it is not hard to applaud Every Child Matters policy but, she asked, “How does our theological integrity sit alongside government policy?” She talked of the Child in the Church report of 1976, and the work that is currently being undertaken in church communities. She suggested that two challenges still remain. The first is to see children as loved and valued in their own right, unconditionally. The second is to ask why, thirty years on, the church at large still hasn’t heeded the words of the 1976 Child in the Church report.

Jim Richards talked about Church-based practice as the conscience of the nation. He started by stating his reservations with the Every Child Matters approach, pointing out the problems that it assumed child care could be itemised and that there are gaps in the framework. He expressed his concern that some voluntary agencies see the Every Child Matters framework as the only framework around. Jim suggested that the way forward is first to recognise that we must move away from a situation where the prevailing culture is that moral choices are entirely up to the individual, and that religious organisations do have a place in politics.

At 11.30am the Forum then split into groups; there were three different tracks.

Track One looked at excellence in respecting and safeguarding children.
David Pearson spoke about excellence in safeguarding children, from his position as Director of the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS), and Elizabeth Penlington and Chris Dodd talked about excellence in respecting children from their viewpoint, as involved in the work of the Churches Network for Non Violence (CNNV).

Track Two looked at excellence in household and community-based support for children. Mary Dicker and Craig Prentice talked about excellence in community-based support for households, from their point of view as employees at Fegans. Tim Jeffery talked about excellence in church-based community support from his point of view as director of the Spurgeon’s Network, and Hazel Guest looked at excellence in residential family care from her point of view as founder and Director of Good News Family Care (GNFC).

Track Three looked at excellence in training and resources. Julian Marsh spoke on excellence in encouraging and equipping churches to work more effectively with children, families and young people, from his experience as CEO of the George Muller Foundation, and Alan Charter spoke about excellence in children’s ministry from his viewpoint as Head of Evangelism for Scripture Union, and Director of the consortium Children Matter!

After the groups the Forum broke for a one-hour lunch session, and started again at 2.00pm.

After lunch Tim Linehan, Assistant Director for Campaigns and Media at the Children’s Society, gave an update on the Children’s Society’s Good Childhood Inquiry. Then Jane Chevous spoke on Excellence in vocational training for those alongside children, from her experience with her work in developing the Celebrating Children course.

At 2.45pm the Forum again was split into three groups.
The Good Childhood group was chaired by Keith White and led by Tim Linehan. It gathered to discuss the Children’s Society’s ongoing Inquiry into a Good Childhood.

The tasks and priorities of the Christian Child Care Forum group was chaired and led by Simon Rodway and Hilary Elliott. This session was to consult about what people would like to see from CCCF in the future.

Celebrating Children was chaired by David Evans and led by Jane Chevous.  They looked at what you want from a course, considering four main questions:

  1. Typical learners?
  2. Level of accreditation and assessment?
  3. Professional or Christian/ academic? and
  4. Residential, e-learning, modular or mixed?

After the afternoon sessions everyone gathered together again briefly, while Valerie Howarth summarised the main points arising from the afternoon discussions, and thanked all those involved in the organisation of the Forum.

If you want to read the full report of the papers and discussion at the Forum, click here.

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