VCF – The Victoria Climbié Foundation UK welcomes the proposal to fund specialist support services within the Domestic Abuse Strategy and its focus on improving services for child victims of domestic abuse. Yet along with Dr Jo Casebourne, chief executive of the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF), we also recognise that there are gaps in long standing provision for families. (The Guardian, 23 December 2021; Charity says 16,000 UK children could be exposed to domestic abuse at Christmas).
It is not enough to state that we will have yet more new strategies
What we don’t want is for needless strategies and think tanks to be collated and for the wheel to be rehashed yet again. There are already many measures within the Children Act which, if implemented correctly and robustly by the current systems, would have a significant impact on the wellbeing and welfare of children already at risk or subject to domestic abuse.
What’s the point if the actual proposed systems after many months of consultation, sometimes years of compiling the information from different organisations.
What’s the point if we are going to end up back at square one with serious failings, resulting in the sad, tragic and quite frankly avoidable deaths of the many children subjected to abuse as highlighted by the media in recent weeks and months.
It is necessary therefore, to fully implement the current procedures
We also want to ensure that the proposal for “culturally specific interventions for minority groups” is addressed appropriately and embedded within the system.
At VCF, we support many families who have needs which are not being met by the current services. We, and a number of grassroots organisations, already provide culturally specific support within our team who encompass knowledge, experience and in some cases direct historical experience of the issues which the families we are helping have experienced. It is also important to acknowledge that disability specific interventions should be addressed as a vast majority of abuse is perpetrated against children with special educational needs and disabilities.
This enables us to provide support to the families and children, that improves their emotional wellbeing and an understanding of their needs. We are also in a position to branch out and advise services which are currently failing to provide culturally-specific support.
It is important that any review looks to addressing children’s individual support needs, not just a “cultural minority”. Children need to be treated individually in every case we come across in order to provide the best outcomes for the child, and also to support schools and teaching staff as well as other services providing support to the children and their families.
Too often, local authorities are quick to step in with unwarranted advice on how they feel it is best to proceed with the child. This is often at odds with what the children and families who approach us actually want, or are entitled to. We are often called upon to intervene and assist families, with our understanding of culturally sensitive support, and to also assist children’s services on how they can meet these needs.
Thus, already, without a new and rehashed strategy, the current legislations and building on from the ‘Every Child Matters’ policy (scrapped in 2010, for reasons unknown) we can work together to implement the system set up to protect children’s rights to care and protection, to ensure the needs of every child are met.