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The Moon Is Shrinking – What’s That To Do With Children’s Homes?

The moon is shrinking – what’s that to do with children’s homes?

NASA reports the volcanic core of the Moon is cooling and shrinking.

Shrinking Moon Causing Moonquakes and Faults Near Lunar South Pole – NASA

NASA reports that “as it cools, the moon shrinks, the interior volume changes and the crust has to adjust to that change — it’s a global contraction, to which tidal forces on the Earth also contribute”.

The Moon orbits Earth.

Residential Child Care orbits children’s services.

This new appreciation of the Moon prompts us to appreciate the necessity to know more before we remove the Sellotape on the Jenga tower and make decisions about fees.

Every week we read of the effect of the spending on residential placements on local authority budgets. It is agreed by all that the numbers needing a residential placement have increased, and the numbers of co-occurring needs for each child require an increased intensity of care response. There is disagreement over profit making.

What we need is better analysis and insight into the amount of fees in relation to the child.

It is the amount of funding that is present in the relationship that matters.

(Download report via this blog Appreciating Residential Child Care Workers as Attachment makers changes everything – NCERCC

The metaphor of the moon has more prompts to thinking too.

One small step for RCC – one big step for children’s services

We need to understand the relationship of children’s services with RCC. It is presented in arguments as though RCC is integrated or autonomous. Neither are so.

Residential Child Care has never been integrated into children’s services.

There are many ways we can see this phenomenon.

  • The sequential and hierarchical way children progress through placements places Residential Child Care at the extremities, the ‘last resort’, though research shows earlier use of residential solutions could be beneficially socially, emotionally, psychologically, and financially. The right place at the right time is effective and efficient.
  • There is a long running discussion, over which there is no consensus, about whether Residential Child Care is part of Social Work or not. (NCERCC aligns with the thinking that RCC is something distinct). There have been attempts to draw in RCC into SW but all foundered.
  • There was a time when all social workers had to have a residential placement. This was ended, though it often is suggested as a way for all social workers to experience high level needs and how to work with them, and how to work positively with children’s homes. It is worth thinking about.
  • There was a time when RCC was called Residential Social Work, but this ended with in definition and protection of the title of Social Worker. RCC is not part of Social Work England, and it has no sectoral status in BASW membership, and some RCCWs are members. It had recognition when there was the Children’s Workforce Development Council. Again, something of the past that is worth thinking about when we survey the current workforce development that is required across all children’s social care.

Residential Child Care has never been autonomous. It works in relation to children’s services.

Reflect for a moment on the current public portrayal of children’s services and RCC. Would you describe in one of the following ways? Contemplative (passive); Pragmatic (aggressive); Community

NCERCC can see that there is contestation over funding, fee construction and profit making and that its motivation is pragmatic, RCC is a big spend in a local authority budget, and that the arguments are often forcefully made.

Following Macmurray’s concept of ‘persons in relation’ we can see that what is occurring today.

The call for a state decision, as recently intimated by the Minister for Children is forthcoming, is only necessary because there is a breakdown in the customary community of direct personal relations. Where there is a community each realises themselves through the other. I must trust the other. If we quarrel we each withdraw, and fear replaces the trust.

We need to co-operate to find the conditions which impose restraints on each party. This requires we look at the integration and autonomy of RCC with children’s services.

We need to do this before we make any decisions that might contract the supply of RCC.

It is not an issue to do with children’s services or RCC as separated entities. It is a systemic issue.

When the moon changes something changes for us.

What is going on for the Moon is nothing to do with us on Earth but the volcanic forces at its core. Unpredictable Moon quakes last for hours with strong ground shaking. We do not need this in RCC at a time when it is needed more than ever so demand shows us.

The Earth’s tidal forces affect the Moon. Just as the budgets of local authorities affect RCC.

We need to consider the potential for unintended consequences if we make precipitous decisions about the budget for RCC spending.

NASA says, “The global distribution of … faults, their potential to be active, and the potential to form new … faults … should be considered when planning the location and stability of permanent outposts on the Moon.”

The RCC sector we have today has been created unplanned and incrementally.

Moon researchers say that the surface has been hit by asteroids and comets,

which means all the loose bits of dust and potentially hazardous rocks on the surface moves and bounces around very easily during a moonquake. It “makes it very possible” for “landslides to occur”.

We need to plan the next steps for RCC. We need to avoid investor flight or fight. If the current private investment disappears then it would be local authority that would be needed, or philanthropy, both of which we do not have enough. Or we expand fostering, but that is proving challenging. Or we decrease the numbers in care, but the analysis tells us demand for statutory interventions grows in an era of austerity with poverty and deprivation. Rationing does not decrease demand.

At policy level the interface between children’s services and RCC is heated. At provider: commissioner level it is an ordinary day making and taking referrals.

If there is a policy change that cools the motivation of providers it is akin to the moon’s interior volume changing and the crust having to adjust to that change. It is systemic contraction, to which tidal forces contribute.

The Moon shows us that in such a situation expect cracks.

But more, as NASA explains “on Earth we have a much stronger gravity keeping us attached to the surface. On the moon, it’s much smaller, so even a little bit of ground acceleration is going to potentially pop you off your feet, if you’re walking along.”

“That kind of shaking can really start throwing things around in a low G environment.”

This is to be avoided with the RCC sector.

We need to be approaching the current conjuncture as a systemic issue.

What is decided does not just affect RCC – it affects everything. RCC is the sector that enables other aspects of children’s services to work as well as they do.

You get positive RCC in positive children’s services.