Fostering needs of deaf children

Christopher Kang-Mullen, Social Care Policy Adviser

Christopher Kang-Mullen, Social Care Policy Adviser

This is part 2 of my blog on the needs of deaf children who are fostered or in local authority care. It outlines a recent project that NDCS has started to identify and support deaf children and young people in this area.

NDCS project

At NDCS we recognised that whilst the numbers of deaf children in care are low it was important to try to identify and raise their needs and those that care or may care for them with local authorities’ planning services. We also needed to include independent fostering agencies who are a significant provider of services used by local authorities to indentify and provide placements for children who require care.

We therefore undertook a project to identify and consult with foster carers of deaf children and deaf children who are in, or have experienced, care.

What foster carers told us

Too often foster carers spoke about a lack of information in preparation of caring for a deaf child by children’s social care and them having to seek out information as they went along. Often social workers, although supportive, were felt to lack an understanding of the child’s needs related to their deafness and how this may impact on their care giving role.

What deaf children and young people told us

In our consultation with deaf children and young people they highlighted the difficulties of having to move from their family and home and the importance of social workers and their carers being able to communicate with them.

New resources

As a first response to our consultation we felt that there was a clear need to provide quick and accessible basic information to foster carers; children’s home workers and fostering social workers around the potential needs of deaf children and young people. Such information is vital to support those crucial first hours and days when a child becomes fostered or goes into alternative placements.

We have therefore produced two new short resources which are available to download from our website and cover the range of topics including communication; hearing aids; sounds and how we hear; and links to further help within NDCS resources.

These are being sent to all UK local authorities and independent fostering agencies and have been welcomed by our consulting foster carers who have said that they wished such information as presented in these resources had been available to them before their placements had started.

Future plans for the project

We hope to follow this up later this year with a resource, produced by deaf young people who are in care, for deaf children when they come into care. We will also continue to encourage local authorities and independent fostering agencies to better plan services to meet the needs of deaf children. One local authority has already recognised their need to improve services and is working with NDCS to provide training on the needs of deaf children to their short and long term foster carers.

I hope to inform you in future blogs as to how this project develops. At NDCS we will continue to campaign for the recognition of deaf children’s needs within social care provision at a local and national level.

Chris Kang-Mullen NDCS Social Care Policy Advisor

Our new resources can be downloaded at

http://www.ndcs.org.uk/family_support/fostering_deaf_children/

For more information on fostering go to

http://www.baaf.org.uk/info/fostering

Fostering needs of deaf children

Christopher Kang-Mullen

Christopher Kang-Mullen, Social Care Policy Adviser

In this first part of a two part blog I will discuss the needs of deaf children and young people who become ‘looked after’ or go into local authority care.

When alternative care is necessary

In very extreme circumstances when it is felt that a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm due to the care given by their parents or carers a child may require the local authority to place them in alternative care. This could be with extended family or relatives; foster carers or in children’s homes.

In the UK there are 92,000 children in care and the majority of these children are in foster placements.

Such arrangements can be temporary where it’s felt that parents/carers will be able to meet their children’s needs, or it could be longer term. For very young children where it is felt that they clearly cannot return home the adoption route must be considered.

 The experience for the child

Leaving home, where a child may have experienced long term abuse or neglect will still be a traumatic experience for any child. They will have to break routines and disrupt attachments to parents or carers, family members and friends. In some instances a child may have to move away from a school they attended and the community they live in.

A child will inevitably try to give meaning to such events and for a deaf child who may have limited language and or access to communication this will likely increase the stress they experience. In such situations the need for a social worker who can communicate effectively with the child and ensure their language needs and potentially deaf cultural needs are fully considered in the placements sought is crucial. If not, further damage is likely to the child’s emotional health and well-being.

The challenge of meeting deaf children’s needs in care

There are a number of factors which make it difficult to recognise and plan for the needs of deaf children when they come into care. These include;

  •  the statistical data requirements on local authorities in most UK countries does not require the types of disability to be specified and therefore total numbers of deaf children in care are unknown
  • there are very few specialist social work teams and social work posts for deaf children. An NDCS soon to be published survey of social care provision in English local authorities confirms this
  • many local authorities do not recognise the possible social care needs of deaf children and that they are ‘children in need’ within UK law.
  • deafness is a low incidence disability and being deaf does not necessarily mean every child must require social care support to meet their needs. This will be dependent on the resources within the family; other children’s services.

NDCS project

At NDCS we recognised that whilst the numbers of deaf children in care are low it was important to try to identify and highlight their needs and those that care or may care for them with local authorities planning services.

In the next blog I will explain about our NDCS project to raise awareness of deaf children in care.

For more information on fostering go to:

http://www.baaf.org.uk/info/fostering

Chris Kang-Mullen NDCS Social Care Policy Advisor

 

Local Offers – have you been consulted?

Martin McLean Project Manager I-Sign

Martin McLean Project Manager I-Sign

Over the last couple of months we’ve seen the vast majority of local authorities in England publish their Local Offer. Basically, Local Offers are websites where information is published about services across education, health and social care for children and young people with SEN and disabilities in the local area. The idea behind them is that families and young people have access to information in one place which means they are better informed and have more control about the support they access.

Sounds great so far doesn’t it? However, I have looked at quite a few Local Offers recently and have still yet to find one that would be particularly useful for a parent of a deaf child. Where the Local Offer has a search box typing in ‘deaf’ tends to either:

  1. Come up with nothing or very little at all
  2. List every service known to man under the sun

(Ok, no. 2 is a slight exaggeration) Even if you don’t use a search box function and decide to go through the various menus that exist, it is hard to find any information specific to deafness as services tend not be categorised by type of SEN/disability.

By law, local authorities must consult with parents and young people when developing their Local Offer. How much did they consult with parents of deaf children?

Not much, you might think. Well, thanks to a Freedom of Information request we actually know the answer – 44% of local authorities told us they did not consult with parents of deaf children. Quite often consultation has not been specific to type of disability/SEN but rather a general consultation that may have included parents of deaf children. Families of deaf children are a small group and it could be very easy for their needs to be forgotten if only general consultations are carried out. Only 29% of local authorities consulted directly.

consultedwithparentsofdeafchildren

When it comes to consulting with deaf young people local authorities fare even worse with 68% having carried out no consultation with them. And it shows – I can’t imagine many young people being incentivised to explore their area’s Local Offer – they’d probably find flicking through the Oxford English Dictionary more interesting! Information tends to be very dull and far from ‘youth-friendly’ despite the fact they must be accessible to young people by law.

 

Chart2Consultedwithparentsofdeafchildren

 

 

 

 

We are worried that money and time has been spent on developing Local Offer websites without proper consultation having taken place. However, most local authorities would probably agree at the moment that their Local Offers are not a finished product and need a lot more development before they become useful to families of deaf children. This development should be informed by feedback from parents and young people. NDCS encourages parents and young people to look at their Local Offer and to submit comments to their local authority. E.g. How easy is it to find information? What services are missing? Local authorities are required to publish (anonymously) comments received from families and respond to them. Additionally, they must continue to consult with parents and young people to review and improve their Local Offer. This tends to be done through parent-carer forums and you can find your local forum here: http://www.nnpcf.org.uk/who-we-are/find-your-local-forum/

We would like central government to do more to hold local authorities to account for having poor local offers or failing to consult properly. Local Offers have the potential to be a valuable tool. However, once again, just like the old system; it comes down to parents and young people to take action. We urge you to get involved!

To download NDCS’s guide for families on Local Offers visit: www.ndcs.org.uk/sen

Martin McLean is the Project Manager of the I-Sign project which aims to improve access to BSL for families of deaf children and is developing case studies on local offers and BSL provision. www.ndcs.org.uk/isign

5 articles the Campaigns Team has been reading this week

NDCS - Liz Partridge, Campaigns Manager, Freedom of Information

Liz Partridge, Campaigns Manager

Every week we’ll be compiling a short list of articles that we’ve noticed in the news and want to share with you. Some of them will be about campaigning and others will be about changes to policy, or relevant policy areas, which may be of interest.

1)    Teachers in England work longer hours than the rest of the world – but not in the classroomRichard Garner, Independent

A major international study by the OECD has revealed that teachers in England work on average 46 hours a week, but only 20 of those are spent in the classroom.

2)    Think-tank highlights ‘staggering’ failings in support for vulnerable children, Derren Hayes, CYP Now

The Centre for Social Justice has claimed that local authorities are carrying out “unscrupulous and illegal” practices to restrict the support they provide to vulnerable children in need of social care and mental health services.

3)    Scottish independence: Plans announced for Scotland’s ‘biggest ever debate’, BBC Scotland

BBC Scotland is to host the biggest televised debate the country has ever seen in the week before the independence referendum. Up to 12,000 first time voters from across Scotland are expected to be in attendance.

4)   Good grammar: r ur children txt mad?, Tom Payne, Telegraph

Fear not! Researchers have discovered that the shorthand that children use on their mobile phones, along with those mistakes that may or may not be deliberate, isn’t harming the way they write.

5)    Cameron apologises over Andy Coulson appointment, BBC News

Following Tuesday’s verdict, Prime Minister David Cameron has apologised for employing Andy Coulson as his director of communications.

Have you seen any articles this week that you liked? Post the link to them in the comments section below and we’ll check them out!

5 articles the Campaigns Team has been reading this week

Jonathan Barnes - NDCS, articles we’ve been reading this week

Jonathan Barnes, Campaigns Assistant

Every week we’ll be compiling a short list of articles that we’ve noticed in the news and want to share with you. Some of them will be about campaigning and others will be about changes to policy, or relevant policy areas, which may be of interest.

1)    GCSE analysis: Can the new exams be linked to the world’s ‘best’ education systems?, William Stewart, TES

“There is no international standard that we can benchmark to.” Yesterday’s frank admission from Cath Jadhav, Ofqual’s director of research, neatly sums up the fix the exams regulator finds itself in as it seeks to ensure England’s reformed GCSEs match the world’s most “rigorous” standards.

2)    State schools now competing with private schools for best students – Gove, Steven Swinford, The Telegraph

Parents in South London who can afford to send their children to private schools are choosing instead to send them to the state sector.

3)    Social care becomes ‘emergency service’ as cuts biteNeil Puffett, Children and Young People Now

Rising caseloads combined with spending cuts have left local authority children’s social care provision as little more than an “emergency service” the NSPCC has claimed.

4)    £10-a-month fee to use NHS: Outrage at call to end era of free healthcare, Ben Endley, Daily Express

Patients would pay £10 a month to use the NHS and higher fees for prescriptions under plans revealed today. People should also face extra costs for staying in hospital, a new report says.

5)    Five social media charity campaigns you need to know about, Zoe Amar, The Guardian

Five recent social media campaigns run, or used, by charities to improve outcomes. Some great ideas about what makes a good social media campaign.

Have you spotted any good articles around this week? Leave a comment below to share them with us!

5 articles the Campaigns Team has been reading this week

Jonathan Barnes - NDCS, articles we’ve been reading this week

Jonathan Barnes, Campaigns Assistant

Every week, we’ll be compiling a short list of articles that we’ve noticed in the news and want to share with you. Some of them will be about campaigning and others will be about changes to policy, or relevant policy areas, that may be of interest.

1)    A poor Ofsted report could lead to headteachers being ‘disappeared’Dorothy Lepkowska, The Guardian

Headteachers in challenging schools say they live in fear for their jobs as Kent county council spells out the consequences of a failed Ofsted inspection.

 2)    Mental health funding changes will put lives at risk, say charities Denis Campbell, The Guardian

Charities Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Mental Health Network warn that people with mental health problems could die because of controversial NHS funding changes which breach ministerial pledges to treat patients with psychological  or physical conditions equally.

3)    Why are libraries mandatory in prisons but not schools? Hannah Furness, The Telegraph

Malorie Blackman, the children’s laureate, questions why libraries are mandatory in prisons but not schools, claiming services for young readers are “disappearing”

4)    The real life Cinderella who was slave for wicked mother and siblings Emily Retter, Daily Mirror

Feature focusing on a case study and Action for Children’s campaign against emotional abuse of children.

 5)    Is campaigning really worth the money?Brian Lamb, Campaign Central

Brian Lamb, who has worked extensively on disability campaigns, gives his thoughts on whether campaigning in the charity sector offers value for money and what can be done to improve it further.

Have you spotted any good articles around this week? Leave a comment below to share them with us!

Will your local authority protect services for deaf children this year?

NDCS - Liz Partridge, Campaigns Manager, Freedom of Information

Liz Partridge, Campaigns Manager

This is a very busy time of year for us as we have just sent Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to all councils and local health authorities in England about their services for deaf children and are expecting their responses very soon.

We have done this for the past three years now as part of our Stolen Futures campaign.

The FOI requests ask, among many other things, about councils and health authorities’ budgets for deaf children in education, social care and speech and language therapy services.

The information we get back helps us work out if campaigning action is needed to challenge any cuts to services for deaf children. Last year we discovered that:

  • 29% of local authorities cut specialist education support services for deaf children.
  • One quarter of councils reduced their budget and/or staffing for social care services that deaf children access. The vast majority of local authorities (96%) did not have specialist social care services for deaf children.
  • One quarter of local health authorities reduced their budget and/or staffing for speech and language therapy services for deaf children.

Find out how we’re tackling these cuts to deaf children’s services here.

Cuts map for Stolen Futures

This year we sent our FOI requests on March 3rd and, according to the FOI Act, the authorities then have 20 working days from the date the request is received to respond to our request. We’ll be recording the results on our cuts map, so keep an eye out and get involved in any campaigns in your area.

Not only do we rely on information from councils and health authorities across England, but the information you give us is also invaluable in our fight to protect services for deaf children.

How you can help

Are you experiencing a reduction in support? If so contact us today.
Email: helpline@ndcs.org.uk
Call our freephone helpline number: 0808 800 8880

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Thank you for your support!