Twenty years of apathy and failure – with children and families paying the heavy price
My focus is on babies and young children who have very special needs, often with multiple impairments. My dream is for effective integrated early child and family support in which local agencies and practitioners join together to produce a seamless service to support the child’s learning and development and to help the whole family achieve the best possible quality of life.
In the UK we are a million miles away from this dream and the all-party parliamentary group feels like a throw-back in time. Twenty years ago we were all talking about integration, keyworkers and team around the child. Effective models were developed and written about. Then the government lost interest in these children and moved on to newer vote-catching projects. Since then children and families have to cope best they can with shameful fragmentation and chaos.
Now we are being asked to step back twenty years and start again! As though struggling families have just been discovered. As though people in the Westminster bubble have just noticed some babies and young children are getting a raw deal.
How many families would have been properly supported if these well-pain politicians, civil servants and charity bosses had run with the baton that was handed to them two decades ago?
In September 2019 I posted a series of comments in TAC Bulletin under the title ‘It takes leaders to break down silos’ – report by Council for Disabled Children offers more of the same. Disappointing
I argued that leadership was only one factor among many – including disability prejudice, the failure of universities to prepare graduates for joint working and the very real anxieties and apprehensions that many practitioners have about collaborating with people across agency or professional boundaries.
These are massive barriers to integrated care which I then addressed in the 2020 Manual, Integration Made Possible: A practical manual for joint working – multiagency – multidisciplinary - transdisciplinary.
I imagine in twenty years’ time I will be reading about a new government initiative to integrate care and writing ‘Integration Made Possible 2’. Much champagne will have flowed in Westminster by then.
Peter Limbrick, May 2022
If you know of an effective integrated early child and family support system in England, please let me know.