Guest blog by Olalekan Odedeyi, Community Advocate at Save the Woman
Save The Woman based in Middlesbrough is part of the Coalition of African people and African-led organisations that came together to mark and raise awareness about the UN International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) 2015 – 2024. The Decade has 3 pillars: Recognition, Justice and Development. It is under the Justice pillar that the concerns of over-representation of Black African & African-Caribbean children in the care system reached Save the Woman’s attention.
A letter dated 02 July 2021, signed by Maris Stratulis and Andy Gill, the National Director, BASW England and Chair, BASW England Committee respectively stated such concerns. They went on record to acknowledge that there can be miscarriages of justice, writing:
“for these small amounts of but certainly not inconsequential cases, the government, the judiciary, and other organisations involved in decision-making processes must make meaningful formal apologies.”
The BASW letter said, “There is a disparity of older black children in the care system. We welcome that the Change for Care document highlights this unacceptable and ever-increasing trend of inequalities and the need to understand these structural and institutional inequalities (Webb et al., 2020)”.
A BBC Politics article published 23 November 2021 titled “Children in care in England could hit almost 100,000 by 2025”, the report highlighted that research commissioned by county councils said the figure would represent a 36% rise in a decade. Subsequently, a Researching Reform publication of 24 November 2021 titled “Children’s social care stakeholders vow to keep families together after budget cuts make child protection plans unsustainable”. The report revealed that council leaders in Britain have called for an “unrelenting focus on keeping families together” wherever possible, following budget cuts which have left councils unable to sustain the vast volume of child protection investigations and care plans initiated by local authorities.
At Save The Woman we know that there are children in need that require Council’s support, however, still there are hundreds of children currently in care or being looked after by the local authority which are not supposed to be. Save the Woman’s priority is to support families in a way that is beneficial to the child and society at large.
Best practice must be taught
The Save the Woman team agrees with the community that best practice is not learnt by osmosis but must be taught. African families are used to the concept that “it takes a village to raise a child”, the isolation of being away from family can be confusing.
Save the Woman works to bridge the gap to provide Africentric Parenting Skills, much needed guidance on the needs of children and expectations of parents in the UK. The course provides practical guidance for bringing up children. It supports a parent seeking the best for their children and provides a road map for parenting effectively in a different cultural environment.
Success of course spreading across country
Following our intervention and early support of strategic plans, in the project’s first year, we have safely facilitated return of 6 children from the care system, protected sixteen 16 children from entering care, and directly empowered and supported hundreds more families through the Africentric parenting skills course. The value of the Africentric Parenting Skills course is spreading beyond Middlesbrough to other English cities and into Scotland.
How much is invested in care instead using those funds to support families? This is a concern not only for Save the Woman but for entire community. It would be revolutionary to invest in families through training and support, strengthen their ability to care for their children on the principle that prevention is better than cure, rather than take children into the Care System and run up budgets to the tune of £9.93 billion.
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If you are aware of newly migrants moving to Middlesbrough and other cities in the UK, please help them find this course. Follow this link: