07 May 2021
The findings of an independent review of children’s homes have been published, as well as an updated plan to develop and improve the Children’s Social Care Service in Jersey.
The Government of Jersey invited the Independent Children’s Homes Association (ICHA) to review the Island’s residential children’s homes during August and September 2020.
ICHA was chosen to provide independent expertise, as it has no involvement in the delivery of care or support to children and young people in Jersey. All eight children’s homes and two short-break homes were visited and young people, parents, staff and partner agencies were given the opportunity to share their views.
In a report, published today, the ICHA has made a series of recommendations, which the Government has already started to address, and these are reflected in Our Plan for Children’s Social Care Service 2021- 2023.
Elizabeth Cooper, Deputy CEO of Independent Children's Home Association, said: “I would like to thank the Island of Jersey for its openness and co-operation in helping me conduct this review. In particular, I would like to thank the young people who shared their thoughts and experiences, hopes and desires.
“My aim was always to work with those delivering and receiving care on the Island to find ways that could enhance the services being offered. I believe that the Island has the potential to provide outstanding services for all children and hope that this report contributes towards that goal.”
Responding to the findings, Assistant Minister for Children and Education, Deputy Scott Wickenden, said: “Jersey has been on a journey since the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry. Whilst we are making progress - as stated by the independent reviewers and the Jersey Care Commission in their Overview Report - we recognise the need to improve with even more pace and an even greater sense of urgency.
“I am most grateful to hear that children and young people, living in the Island’s homes, often speak positively about their personal experiences of residential care. I am also pleased that the short break homes provide an excellent service to children with complex needs and are valued by their families. And, crucially, staff care about children and young people and they are committed to providing the best possible services.
“We recognise that Residential Child Care Officers and Registered Managers are doing their best to support children in care. In particular, I commend their unwavering dedication and support during the global pandemic, where they regularly put themselves in harm’s way to care for children who could not be with their birth families.
“Nonetheless, it is clear that we must do more to provide the conditions for them to lead children’s homes that are therapeutically-informed and well supported. Alongside, we need to deliver our commitment in the Government Plan to establish a two or three bed therapeutic children’s home.
“I would like to thank the Independent Children’s Homes Association (ICHA) for its review of children’s homes, in Jersey, which I very much welcome. They have provided an insightful critique of our current services, independent of those responsible for day-to-day management and leadership.
“The Government is committed to Putting Children First, which means supporting and investing in continuous improvement and transforming outcomes. I look forward to seeing the recommendations implemented without delay and significantly improved outcomes for children and young people using our children’s homes in Jersey.”
Mark Owers, Director of Safeguarding and Care, said: “We already knew that there was room for improvement and wanted the analysis from ICHA to bring independence to the review and its findings. Both this report and the Care Commission’s will inform our Care Homes Improvement Programme.
“Over the coming weeks, we will develop the programme plan together with children, staff and partners. This will address staffing issues identified in the review and create new opportunities for training and engagement with staff.
“We will work to progress the development of the secure children’s home as a matter of urgency. The Government has appointed a full-time project manager to lead the development of this work, reporting to a Multi-Agency Management Board.
“The work is being developed with consideration of the £7 million redevelopment funding and the new Therapeutic Children’s Home.
“The Care Homes Improvement Programme is an exciting opportunity for us to invest in our homes and our staff to build on our strengths. This will enable us to better safeguard and care for the children and young people living in our homes.
“I am pleased to present Our Plan to develop and improve the Children’s Social Care Service in Jersey. Children and young people deserve the greatest level of safety, protection, and care. I would also like to thank colleagues for their support and commitment to help make Jersey the best place for children and young people to grow-up and be safe.