03 July 2018
On the anniversary of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry report, the government has conceded that the recommended improvements to the care and protection of children have not been delivered deep enough or fast enough.
The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry exposed how, for decades, Jersey failed children and young people in its care and concluded that ‘children may still be at risk’.
But the Chief Executive, Charlie Parker, the Children’s Commissioner, Deborah McMillan, and the interim Director General for Children, Young People, Education and Skills, Mark Rogers, have concluded that improvements to the care of children in Jersey have not been fast enough or deep enough since the Care Inquiry reported.
The Care Inquiry made eight recommendations to improve the care and protection of children, involving 41 actions. All 41 actions have been started, but only 11 of these have been completed.
The internal evaluation was confirmed by preliminary feedback from a recent Ofsted inspection of children’s services in the Island that while no children are at risk of immediate harm, they are still being failed. A full report and recommendations arising from the Ofsted review will be published by the Jersey Care Commission in September.
Senator Sam Mézec, the nominee for Jersey’s first Children’s Minister, said: “The government acknowledges the commitment and efforts that have been made over the past year to implement the Care Inquiry recommendations, but Jersey’s children and young people need more than good intentions: they need concrete and decisive action, and they need our public service to treat this as an urgent priority.
“Jersey is on the right path – with a Children’s Commissioner in post, children’s rights and listening to children on the agenda and independent inspections taking place – but we’re still a long way from the destination, and we’re still failing children and young people.
“The government and the public must put a much more determined focus on delivering the outcomes for children and to addressing the cultural problems in the public service that have stood in the way of this collective endeavour.”
Senator Mézec added: “Everyone has a role to play in the care and protection of children in this island, from politicians to police, teachers and civil servants, to family, friends and neighbours. Children are everyone’s responsibility.”
Mr Parker, who took over direct oversight and accountability from the Health and Social Services department in February, said: “Following our own review, external feedback and from speaking to the Children’s Commissioner, we believe that no children are at risk of immediate harm, but we are still failing to provide the consistent quality of care, protection and support to children and young people in the island.
“We have taken action on all the recommendations from the Care Inquiry, but the improvements have been too slow and they haven’t made the step-change we needed to make. We don’t need to wait for the findings and recommendations from the Jersey Care Commission to know that we need to take decisive action and put the full weight of the public service machine behind this priority. We will have a new improvement plan in place within a fortnight, which will have hard outcomes and specific timetables for delivery.”