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Children In Residential Child Care Should Be Loved, Happy, Healthy, Safe From Harm And Able To Develop, Thrive And Fulfil Their Potential.

Children in residential child care should be loved, happy, healthy, safe from harm and able to develop, thrive and fulfil their potential.

The title of this blog is the first principle in the statutory guidance the Guide to the Children’s Homes Regulations including the Quality Standards[1]. As statutory guidance it must be followed. Children’s homes are the only part of social work/care that has love as part of its legislative requirements.

You will see the full set of principles below. Love here is a value that informs residential child care. NCERCC agrees with Stuart Carlton in not wanting to see ‘love defined, pulled apart[2].’ Stuart does not want it ‘being put in legislation’. NCERCC takes the view it is important for it to be stated in statutory guidance as an explicit value of social work/care.

Love in the principles is not being ‘manualised’. It is concerned with the values that we bring before we consider practice actions.

The social pedagogy concept of ‘haltung’ is about how we guide our actions by what we believe in. The professional and the personal are intrinsically interwoven. It’s about emotional connectedness that informs what we do and how we do it. ‘Haltung’ is not something adopted for a particular situation, it is about being ‘authentic’. ‘Haltung’ is influenced by the way we think about children, what notions we hold about who they are. Through our relationships with children we communicate how we love and care, or not. Starting with love affects the way in which we engage with others. In order to know love we must first be given it, then we can link the feeling to the behaviour. Like Attachment it comes first from those doing the parenting and is then able to be reciprocated.[3]

I was chairing a conference and there was discussion about love. One person felt they could not accept the word and preferred Rogers’ unconditional positive regard. My thinking would be that this requires love to be present; and also for empathy to be present.

NCERCC takes it that love is intrinsic to the No Wrong Door care of North Yorkshire (e.g. some NWD outcomes: improving young people’s safety and stability, reducing vulnerabilities, improving emotional wellbeing). The aim of NWD is that young people and their needs, no matter how diverse, are addressed within a single team of trusted and skilled workers. The aim is for workers to with the young person throughout their journey; be it to prevent care, in care, across care or out of the care system. This integrated approach would ensure that young people are not passed from service to service (door to door); and that they have a dedicated, highly trained team around them. In other places it might be expressed as ‘Start with the child, stay with the child.’

Why Love Matters is the title of a book by Sue Gerhardt. In presentations[4] she has made she shows the policy implications when starting with love.

It may be helpful to consider how love came to be included in the Quality Standards.

It came about over several weeks in the discussions in the authoring group of the Quality Standards. ‘Should we put love in the standards? At first it was not favoured. I remembered a long serving residential child care worker/director who in his leaving speech reflected that when he started ‘people knew less and loved more.’ Increasingly I came to know what he meant, and here was its moment. As I sit and write now I am wondering about remembering love long after we forget the practice, or maybe we remember it first.

I recall chairing another international conference and the panel being asked about the place of love in children’s services. My summary of the responses was ‘Love is not enough’ (to quote Bettelheim’s book title). In writing this I wanted to signpost people to Charles Sharpe’s writings on the goodenoughcaring website, alas it has been suspended (anyone know if has been archived safely and accessible?). My summary was informed by Winnicott Home/Love is where we start from and is expressed well a CELSIS blog ‘Skilled, therapeutic parenting is needed to help children recover from trauma and loss. Carers, regardless of their setting, need specialist training, active support, containment for their own needs, and excellent, readily available peer support to ensure children’s development and wellbeing.’ [5]“Times New Roman”;mso-fareast-language:EN-GB”>

The principles for the statutory guidance the Guide to the Children’s Homes Regulations including the Quality Standards were originally drafted by NCERCC and were amended for use in relation to the Quality Standards.

All homes are expected to apply the principles, and to ensure that residential child care is a positive choice for children and young people where a children’s home is the best placement to meet their individual needs.

The full set of principles are as follows

  • Children in residential child care should be loved, happy, healthy, safe from harm and able to develop, thrive and fulfil their potential.
  • Residential child care should value and nurture each child as an individual with talents, strengths and capabilities that can develop over time.
  • Residential child care should foster positive relationships, encouraging strong bonds between children and staff in the home on the basis of jointly undertaken activities, shared daily life, domestic and non-domestic routines and established boundaries of acceptable behaviour.
  • Residential child care should be ambitious, nurturing children’s school learning and out-of-school learning and their ambitions for their future.
  • Residential child care should be attentive to children’s need, supporting emotional, mental and physical health needs, including repairing earlier damage to self-esteem and encouraging friendships.
  • Residential child care should be outward facing, working with the wider system of professionals for each child, and with children’s families and communities of origin to sustain links and understand past problems.
  • Residential child care should have high expectations of staff as committed members of a team, as decision makers and as activity leaders. In support of this, children’s homes should ensure all staff and managers are engaged in on-going learning about their role and the children and families they work with.
  • Residential child care should provide a safe and stimulating environment in high-quality buildings, with spaces that support nurture and allow privacy as well as common spaces and spaces to be active.

This paragraph assisted by Haltung in Social Pedagogy – ThemPra Social Pedagogy

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