This just in. The Government has this morning published its response to the Dispute Resolution Advisory Group’s report on making family proceedings more child friendly and amplifying the voice of the child in such proceedings.
It’s worth noting that Minister for Justice Simon Hughes’ enthusiastic response to the report and his overarching endorsement of it come just before the election. Indeed, he makes it clear in his covering letter that he cannot commit to any reforms in the report because of this inconvenient fact. As a result, we probably shouldn’t get too excited about this latest response to the Group’s proposed child welfare reforms.
However, the government appears to welcome some good initiatives, which include making the sector more ‘digital’, more accessible and better informed, offering kite marks for those services which actively implement Voice of the Child policies and raising the standard when it comes to understanding children and giving their voice due weight.
Silly suggestions include the continued desire to force parents to attend Information Programmes (a push which highlights a lack of understanding regarding the underlying problems), pointless flow charts no doubt designed to keep people from doing actual work and the continued call to get professionals to play nice with each other inside the sector (simply asking for this to happen isn’t enough).
We predicted at the beginning of the year that the Voice of the Child movement would be a major player inside the family justice system in 2015, and so this report is a must-read, not only for its significance, but for its largely positive contribution to increasing our understanding of children and their needs.
(Click on the image below to access a short film on the Voice of the Child).