06 September 2018
All States Members and leaders of the public service are being asked to sign up to a ‘Pledge to Jersey’s Children and Young People’ that will hold the government, legislators and public service to account for improving the care and upholding the rights of every child in the island.
The new pledge commits those who sign it to play their part in speeding up the pace of change for children, and acknowledges that the care and protection of children is not solely the responsibility of Children’s Services. It is launched on the day that the Jersey Care Commission publishes its report based on the findings of a recent Ofsted inspection of Children’s Services.
Responding to the report, Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, said: “We accept the findings of the Jersey Care Commission report, and welcome the recommendations for action, which we are studying carefully. We have already started to implement a new improvement plan and will now take any necessary further steps to take into account the recommendations for further improvement.
“Children must be at the heart of everything we do and we must put children first. This Pledge to Children and Young People in Jersey recognises that the care and protection of children is not simply the responsibility of Children’s Services, but requires concerted action across the public service, and the commitment of government Ministers and States Members to make the changes that are needed. We are working together to ensure that this Pledge focuses on specific actions and outcomes rather than aspirations.”
Children are everyone’s responsibility
Jersey’s Children’s Minister, Senator Sam Mézec, said: “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.
“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 are still a long way from where we need to be and we are still failing children and young people. The Pledge is a demonstration of our strengthened resolve to make the necessary improvements.
“The government and the States Assembly must ensure that the public service has the right legislation and funding in place, but the public service needs a much more determined focus on delivering the outcomes for children.
“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 is an urgent priority.”
Improvement Plan progress
Mark Rogers, the Director General for Children, Young People, Education and Skills, who is leading the Improvement Plan, said that progress has been made on corporate parenting, with a new framework to be considered by the government and Assembly in the next few weeks. A major, multi-agency training programme is also being launched this month that will see more than 4,000 staff, who work with children, trained in less than nine months.
Mr Rogers said: “We knew from early findings from the Ofsted inspection that we needed to take decisive action and put the full weight of the public service machine behind this priority. We recognise the urgency required and now have an Improvement Plan in place, which has hard outcomes and specific timetables for delivery.
“And we have made progress since we implemented the Improvement Plan in July. The proposed approach to corporate parenting is drafted and will be presented to the Council of Ministers for consideration in the early autumn. And a recruitment and retention strategy for social work staff is in progress.
“We have put strengthened leadership and management arrangements in place to drive improvement across the system at pace. We will continue to update the improvement plan, which we presented to the Council of Ministers yesterday, and we will provide a further update in six months.”
The Pledge to Jersey’s Children and Young People has eight specific commitments:
- We will listen directly to children and young people and involve them in how we design, deliver and review our services
- We will provide integrated support for families that need extra help caring for their children
- We will provide all children in our care with access to a safe, loving, secure home environment
- We will expand, join up and target our early help offer to ensure that children and young people get the support they need when they need it, to prevent risk and issues from escalating
- We will recruit and retain a child-centred, stable, highly professional workforce
- We will make it easier for data and insight across organisations to be shared so that, when assessing how best to meet their needs, we look at children’s and young people’s lives as a whole
- We will ensure that sufficient funding is available to be effective and that any regulatory and legislative changes needed will be progressed swiftly
- We will set and publish clear standards and we will be held publicly to account for achieving them.