Tuesday 26 April 2022

Roll the Dice..........

Childhood Challenging Violent and Aggressive Behaviour is complex, it's emotive, its scary. It's challenging for professionals to walk into a home and unpick the murky soup of trauma, behaviour, biology, history, family etc. 

It seems like a little overstatement but picking up the phone to ask for help can be one of the hardest things we do as a family. Beyond the usual barriers, shame, guilt and embarrassment, the uncertainty of what the response will be can strike absolute terror into the heart of any parent or carer. 

This picking up the phone and 'rolling the dice' is what we do as we don't know who will come or what they'll do. 

We've had some amazing professional involvement, which bizarrely we take full credit for*. We've put in the legwork, built the relationships, worked hard at effective communication (and occasionally education). Being honest we've also seen professionals step up and step in when needed and it's been a life saver, those good ones are worth all the gold in the world.  

When it's not been so great it's rarely been intentional but more often professionals finding themselves in situations that they're not equipped or trained for. Of course, sometimes it's just plainly outside of the remit of the agency or they have a lack of resources or capacity for complex work. Mostly the come in and say, 'I'll need to talk to my manager'. 

This week two people contacted me, they'd 'rolled the dice'. For one it went much better than expected, they'd held off for months, absorbed behaviour, violence, aggression for fear of not knowing who will come and it fell favourably. For the other, not so well. Veiled concerns over their parenting, what was going on, ineffectual collaboration between professionals, confusion over roles, a mess added to a mess. Worse still families drawn into child safeguarding at the expense of adult safeguarding. (Note: Everyone needs safeguarding often)

If we can believe that the prevalence of #CCVAB #CPV is between  3% and 10% in the general population and higher in specific cohorts (SGO, SEN, LAC, PLAC) then the powers that be need to take this seriously. It may not be present in every case a children/families/adoption/SGO/LAC social worker has but it will be a feature of some families. We need the profession to build on the knowledge base and be more effective at supporting families and offering effective solutions. At least we need specialists within LA/RAAs to be available to consult with frontline social workers, offer support and guidance. 

Families should not feel like they roll the dice when they pick up the phone to ask for help. I know the solutions are complex, messy and uncertain. However, the basics of listening, understanding and showing empathy and compassion should be our start point regardless and those be a foundation to build effective interventions off. 

*I think I have a problem, I do have compassion for professionals turning up a our door. 

You can see the training that I'm delivering on #CCVAB #CPV for professionals, parents and carers here

Thursday 17 February 2022

System Literacy

I'm being chased by a metaphoric and actual storm. On my bike heading to the station to catch a train a day early as LNER have informed me it's all gonna go 'Pete Tong' due to storm Eunice. 

The phone rings, I pull up and take the call. 

It's early help, the duty social worker is calling back after we called the duty team to ask them if the duty social worker that came out to see us after the allocated social worker had been unavailable after they'd not come out for two weeks after they had promised cos a thing had happened to them, anyway this duty worker has spoken to that duty worker who had come out and now she understands why we called. 

Yeah, you know how it works.

We talked, I explained, she understood. She said there's been a referral for early help. 

Time slowed, I chose my words carefully. 

"Actually, at the fear of becoming the person that doesn't want early help causing an escalation in concerns, can I say that I don't want early help and I won't be having it thanks....................."

"Ah, ok." was the reply, phew we dodged a bullet. We talked some more and I made sense of why a referral had been made and why we'd asked for it to be made. It's all a bit of a dance. 

It is worth noting that MrsC's views on the impact of an earlier early help 'intervention' if articulated in full would make a pirate blush. 

System Literacy is a real thing, as a parent with ongoing social care involvement it's the difference between disaster and success. We know it's a terrible thing to fall into the hands of an angry social care system. 

A couple of years ago I spent two hours on the phone to a friend walking her through roles and responsibilities, pitfalls and dangers encouraging openness but warning against naivety, how to speak, how not to speak and how to get help and not get trouble. 

Adoptive parents understand that they will need to support thier children and hopefully they are prepared to do so in the process. We need to prepare and support them for the lifetime of professional interactions, how do dance with services, how to advocate and keep our children safe. 

There you go a little story from my day.