The Anglican Church’s Social Justice Commissioner has welcomed the Government’s action plan for vulnerable children.
Dr Anthony Dancer says he’s pleased to see the way the White Paper released yesterday has responded to many of the concerns of frontline social workers and agencies – as expressed in the submissions they made to the earlier Green Paper.
Dr Dancer also thinks the adoption of unified systems for gathering and holding information on vulnerable children could be a good step.
“Where these kids are concerned,” he says, “these unified systems should ensure that ministers and departments no longer work out of silos.”
Dr Dancer has also welcomed the Government’s pledge to increase funding for grandparents raising grandchildren, and to review the effectiveness of parenting programmes.
In particular, though, he’s enthusiastic about the prospect of a hotline for vulnerable children.
If people are worried that children may be being abused, they’ll be able to call that hotline.
“That’s a great move,” he says, “simple, but really helpful.
“We need to get beyond the idea that if we have concerns about children, and we report those concerns, we are somehow betraying caregivers or dobbing them in.
“Because if we don't report our concerns the only people being betrayed are the at-risk children.”
It’s not all plaudits from the Commissioner, though:
“By intensively targeting such a small group of our most vulnerable kids, we need to recognise that money will be taken from other needy families – unless extra funding is made available.
“I’m also concerned that front-line social services workers are being expected, just by working together, to provide significantly better outcomes for vulnerable kids – without recognising that these workers are caught up in a scramble for funding, and need investment in their professional development.”
He also thinks the focus is short term.
“We need to learn more about what sits beneath the headline proposals in the White Paper, and we need to see what the Government’s long-term strategic focus is.”
He says the Social Justice Commission would welcome a longer-term focus on building stronger, healthier communities – and assurance that the Government understands the links between poverty and family violence.
“We know,” he says, “that child poverty and social deprivation are significant contributors to violence in vulnerable families.
“We look forward to meeting the Minister of Social Development to discuss this further, and we commend the significant and committed work Jigsaw member agencies undertake on the frontline every day to build stronger families and more hopeful communities.”
For more of the Commissioner’s analysis, click here .