In the last two months, Michael Gove has found out for himself why the care system is bemoaned by so many, and though we are not fans of Gove’s, his story highlights a very obvious but often un-discussed and undesirable element of Top Down management: the view from the top is never the same as the perspective on the ground.
Post a series of scandals involving children being sexually exploited (think Jimmy Saville, Rochdale and most recently Cyril Smith MP), the government, it seems, has had enough, and launched a full-scale enquiry into the standards of care for children in residential homes. This was then followed up by another consultation (which is still open, and finishes on 23rd September of this year).
Michael Gove decided to concentrate on child protection issues, and, much to his credit, began by trying to acquire the relevant data from local authorities: where children’s homes were located, who was responsible for them and whether they passed even basic standards. When he discovered that the data was not forthcoming, it made him think. And the result, was a direct attack on our child protection system, an attack which is currently being sustained by the sheer volume of activity in this area. We’ve compiled a list of documents that we think make for interesting reading and have added them below:
- 12th September: Michael Gove calls Children’s Care a scandal
- 12th September: The House of Commons holds a debate on child protection (You can read the Hansard, here)
- 17th September (Closing Date): Consultation on Reforming Children’s Care Homes
- Sir James Munby supports more transparency in the family court process
All the potential political chess moves aside, Gove’s hands-on foray into child protection services is a valuable lesson to our politicians working in the family sector: you cannot make meaningful policies until you put your feet on the ground, and walk in others’ shoes. So, pound those pavements, and perhaps, at some point, something good will come of it.