#Keeping the Promise
The Independent Care Review (2020) has clearly set out the research evidence that Scotland’s care experienced children and young people have been failed by a system that doesn’t work to ensure their needs are met. Family Journeys, along with hundreds of other organisations across Scotland, support The Care Review findings in not allowing this failure to continue. Family Journeys have made a commitment and a promise to children, young people and adult care experienced individuals and families that we will make the changes necessary to ensure that your needs are met, that you have opportunities to flourish, and that we listen to how we get that right.
As a children’s charity, Family Journeys values are shaped by the very children we work alongside. Our supports are led by relational and trauma informed/responsive practice, the rights of the child, and the belief of successful independent co-parenting that grows resilience and protective factors for our children. The Promise is part of a framework of legislation, policies and principles that inform our work along with Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC), The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Children (Scotland) Act 2020.
The Scottish Government with cross party support, agreed that the country would Keep the Promise to care experienced and those on the edge of care children and young people in Scotland. To do this, systemic change is widely acknowledged where everyone plays their part in supporting children to grow up loved, safe and respected. #KeepThePromise is a commitment to ensure this change is meaningfully achieved. Family Journeys wish to share our open desire to embrace the changes required and to take bold and brave decisions that will ensure better outcomes are delivered to our care experienced and edge of care children and young people.
Family Journeys are fully committed to the principals of The Promise:
• That ALL children must be listened to and meaningfully and appropriately involved in the decision-making about their care
• That all those involved in a child’s care must be properly listened to and respond to what children want and need
• There must be a compassionate, caring decision-making culture focused on children and those that they trust.
We are proud to have made changes and steps towards improving supports for children in care and on the edge of care. With funding from The Promise Partnership, we have been able to invest in our commitment to care experienced and edge of care children and young people and further build on the work we have started. We also acknowledge that this is just the start, and we still have a lot to achieve. We are committed however to continuing this journey and have a strong desire to share and receive knowledge and skills to continually improve outcomes for children and effect sustainable change for future generations, sharing our learning as we go.
At Family Journeys we take a children's rights-based approach to all our work. We believe the child is the expert in their own situation and must be able to express their opinions in decisions that affect them, especially where these decisions are about their family, their relationships, and their home. Children have a right to be meaningfully involved in decision making (UNCRC) and as professional adults we must ensure we are creating space to listen, to truly hear, and to understand children’s views. We believe all communication is expression of opinion and voice, and that children of all ages are able to communicate how they feel. It is our job, our responsibility, to understand this communication. How do we do this?
Supporting children and young people: we can help children and young people learn mediation skills and ways of communicating their views, whenever this is helpful to them. This might be in decision making in their own family, in foster families or in residential support. It might be in courts or at hearings. Building skills, resilience and coping strategies to support their relationships and providing young people with time, space and decision making capacity regarding their future.
Supporting families to maintain relationships: sometimes, support to meet and talk or enjoy time together is necessary. Helping care experienced children and young people to maintain relationships with brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents or other important people in their lives, is part of our work in Family Connections. Our play centres provide a safe and neutral place to therapeutically build relationships with family members that are not at home. We create a Child's Plan for every child or young person using the service so that support is individually tailored. In this way, children and young people can enjoy the activities and opportunities they want to share with their families. Sometimes, it feels helpful to do this away from home, sometime away from play centres – we can explore moving support into a natural community setting if this is the best step and is safe for the child.
Our services can be accessed by children and young people directly. We will listen confidentiality to what the child or young person wants or needs. We will be honest, and we will always explain what we can and cannot help with.
Adults can also access our services, for help to maintain relationships with their children. When this happens, we always ensure that the child's rights and views guide our work with the adults in their lives.
Sometimes, maintaining relationships can be hard within families, especially when coping with conflict, personal struggles, adversities and or trauma. Our approach is trauma responsive, supportive, caring, therapeutic, and non-judgemental. Above all, we recognise that every family and individual is unique and different people within families have different needs. With help, these can be explored, challenged and supported safely. If the time is not right, at present, the door is open for when it does feel right.