03 July 2018
"One year on from the publication of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, and six months since my appointment as the first Children’s Commissioner for Jersey, I reflect on the IJCI recommendations and how we are progressing in achieving widespread positive change for children and young people in Jersey.
"Frances Oldham QC’s opening paragraph in the Executive Summary is a reminder of why a Children’s Commissioner has been appointed to ensure independent oversight of the interests of children and young people in Jersey… “Our remit has been to establish what went wrong in Jersey’s child care system over decades. That there were failings is not in dispute. Those failings impacted on children already at a disadvantage, whether through family circumstances, a crime committed against the child or even a crime committed by the child. For many children who were removed from home situations deemed harmful or unsatisfactory, the States of Jersey proved to be an ineffectual and neglectful substitute parent.”
"The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry exposed how, for decades, Jersey failed the children and young people who were in our care or otherwise needed our support. The Inquiry showed that this was a systemic failure of public services, government and society.
"I want to make it clear that the appointment of a Children’s Commissioner is more than just a tick box exercise. My role is to promote and protect children’s rights in Jersey and hold government to account on its commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). A new statutory framework will reinforce the critically important independence of my role, as recommended by the Care Inquiry, and provide me with the powers required to effectively carry out my mandate. I will act ‘without fear or favour’ of government, children’s agencies, or the voluntary and private sectors.
"The IJCI represents a defining moment in Jersey’s history in relation to children and young people.
The breadth of the issues covered in the recommendations highlight the range and scale of the challenge and have provided a useful focus for beginning that work.
"Therefore the ‘completion’ of the IJCI recommendations are not in itself an end point, but the start of a journey to drive improvement and transformation. The eight recommendations in the IJCI all represent key building blocks to improving the lives of children and young people , not just those in our care, but for all children and young people in Jersey. Frances Oldham QC formulated the recommendations to address systemic failings, and as we revisit the recommendations one year on we must not forget the root of the problems – Jersey’s child care services were characterised by failures to:
1. Value children in the care system
2. Adopt an adequate legislative framework
3. Keep pace with developments in social policy and social work standards
4. Plan and deliver services to achieve positive outcomes for children
5. Establish a culture of openness and transparency
6. Mitigate the negative effects of small island culture
7. Invest in staff development
8. Promote the recruitment and retention of staff
9. Fulfil corporate parenting responsibilities
10. Tackle a silo mentality among departments
"These ten failings need to be addressed as the underlying causes of service failings, not just in children’s services, but across the States as a whole so that we start to put children and young people at the heart of our decision making. The broader cultural changes, fundamental to underpinning and sustaining the transformation for children go well beyond the delivery of 8 recommendations.
"I am pleased to see that the States of Jersey are leading on developing a multi-agency Children’s Plan that will set out how we go about creating widespread positive change for children and young people in Jersey. By taking a children’s rights approach we will be able to tackle issues such as poverty and inequality on the island. Whilst I am pleased to see the progress made we must not be complacent. We must continue to transform our services for children at pace.
"As the Children’s Commissioner for Jersey my role is to act as the champion and advocate of children and young people, listening and representing their views, in order to make a real difference on something that matters to us all – the futures of all children, young people and their families within our community. My commitment is to make life better for the island’s children and young people. As Children’s Commissioner, it will not be my role to deliver the services they need. My job will be to promote their rights, ensure their voices are heard and represent their views, whether they want to say a huge thank you, or to raise concerns. They have been very specific in asking me to be their champion. This is what I will be.
"The future for Jersey’s children is being shaped and created by the intentions and actions of Government today. We must be bold, ambitious and work at pace – our children should expect nothing less."