My Languages Matter – a White Paper
VCF – The Victoria Climbié Foundation UK and Mothertongue explore the impact of linguistic and cultural heritage through child protection work. Are we effectively considering the relevance of these themes when we are making decisions in the best interest of the child?
This paper seeks to build upon the roundtable discussion; ‘Multilingualism and Misunderstandings for Children in Care’ held in October 2014 at the Houses of Parliament. Chaired by MP Craig Whittaker, the discussion focussed on the communication needs of multilingual parents and children within the care system on a number of fronts and the opportunities and possibilities created through a better understanding of language and related matters.
The specific issues addressed in this paper are:
1. Over-representation of children from BME backgrounds in the care system and the growing multilingual population in the UK;
2. The language and communication matters facing parents, children, social workers, and interpreters, for multilingual children taken into care;
3. Problems caused by the neglect of language matters and costs for individuals, families and societies;
4. Benefits for individuals, families and societies which the multilingual outlook brings;
5. Examples of good practice in strategic planning and frontline delivery;
6. Recommendations for strategic planning and frontline delivery.
The White Paper draws on academic research on identity formation, the importance of language and communication, culture, ethnicity and mental health and the impact of the loss of home/first language. For practical evidence it draws upon the case studies of social workers and stakeholders working with multilingual families, including the voice of the child and the foster parent as well as legal case examples to provide illustrations of good and poor practice. The summary of the latest discussion of mono/multilingualism is provided within a safeguarding context and helps to draw together all the perspectives in a comprehensive and reflective discussion of the main issues outlined.
VCF and Mothertongue offer 5 recommendations for change.
Costa, B., Dioum, M., Yorath, S. (2015). My Languages Matter: the multilingual outlook for children in care – A White Paper