I wrote the following piece for Community Care about my experiences of contact after many years of engaging in sessions with my children. Increasingly, I felt dismay, despair and sometimes disgust at the conditions in which we were expected to repair, rebuild and strengthen our family relationships. Contact felt like a low priority to everyone but us; and it felt geared around what suited the local authority, rather than what was best for my children.
After approaching my local authority with my concerns last year, they invited me to help them to undertake a review into contact venues within the borough. I accepted and have been working with a member of staff from the local authority who has really impressed me with her desire to create a better system for contact for children, and for birth families. A “Parent’s Forum” has been created, and questionnaires gone out to looked after children, their families, social workers and contact supervisors all within the borough. We are hopeful to present our findings and recommendations to senior management quite soon.
This, to me, is an example of my local authority putting their hands up, admitting their mistakes, and then looking to service users to help improve the system. A fine example of co-production and I applaud them for it.
Click on the link below to see the impetus for change: