There are plenty of positive stories that happen daily in the children's homes. My recent experience has confirmed that you don't have to look hard to find the good news, it's common. Fun, smiles, caring about each other, laughter, understanding, achievement, progress, all of these things happen every day, the same as in any family anywhere. Being a created family is one way of looking at children's homes.
We need new thinking about the operating environment we currently frame as a 'marketplace'. We need a courageous, informed articulation of what is happening now, and the start of the thinking that can move us towards a method of effective working, both for quality of care and the health of our finances.
An effect of trauma can be experiences of disorientation and disconnection. Impingement on a person can be so severe that it has the potential to inhibit the development or fracture fragile identity, or there is a need for pathological compliance with the demands of another that are inimical to your own best interests.
This is an inquiry report in which children's homes will feel listened to and that is a very major step to healing the hurt that has been done to the sector. Whereas previous reports and discussions have included many extrapolations and interpretations of evidence here we have the transparency the sector has been seeking: evidence leads to conclusions.
The gap between the rhetoric and the reality of Government proposals for children's homes is increasingly deep. I am increasingly at a loss to find a way to help Ministers find the empathy for the situation the sector now finds itself placed in. We need our Ministers to be role models of effective child care policy and practice, and essential for good residential child care is something called reflective practice.
All we know about Looked After Children tells us that stability of living arrangements is a key factor to achieve. With it comes the opportunity to experience those sharing pieces of life that make all the difference but which in our busy lives we speak of far too little, a feeling of belonging, development of trust, the acceptance that builds self-esteem and feeling understood.
The right place at the right time for the right child. If we are to do this we need to do many things differently than we do now. Currently no children's home can feel safe secure and cared for because of the many pressures, especially those concerning finance and regulation, that are being applied to them.
The secretary of state for Education, Michael Gove, did something profoundly useful this last week, lifting the ban on revealing the locations of children's homes in the UK; the places that house our forlorn and forgotten few who are wards of the state, placed there for a variety of reasons usually owing to abusive and neglectful parents.
Children's homes providers, Local Authorities and Government are united in the aim that the right placement is made at the right time for the right child at the right cost. If are to match the Secretary of State's ambitions we need to be bold and address all the issues we face reforming not only children's homes but Children's Services more widely.
Insistent, persistent and consistent leadership for children's homes would do much to provide continuity and inspiration as the residential child care sector undergoes reforms proposed by the government. The Independent Children's Homes Association supports reform more generally, and played a role in formulating the proposed reforms now open for public consultation.