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The challenge of ‘permanence’

Our 25th November event discussed how we can achieve permanence for our children and young people in care

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January 10, 2020

Over 100 young people and professionals came together at Coram’s event on how to achieve permanence for children and young people in care. The audience on 25 November 2019 heard ideas and experiences about the idea of ‘permanence’ – which is much more than just a placement.

The audience heard contributions from professionals, foster carers, Coram staff and young people aged from 13 to 25, who asked and answered questions on outcomes, relationships with professionals, and how to project manage permanence.

The event included a presentation from Kevin Yong, Managing Director of Coram-i, on taking a project management approach to achieving permanency. Kevin said:

“Securing permanence, as with every project, needs everyone pulling in the same direction and understanding how their actions help to achieve permanence.”

Dr Sheena Webb and Dr Jasmine Chin are Coram clinicians who spoke at the event, responding to questions from young people about siblings, equalising power relations, race, and other topics. Sheena and Jasmine described the psychological need to recognise the strengths, resilience and agency in young people. Dr Jasmine Chin, Clinical Lead at Coram said:

“We are responding as professionals in the best way we can, with systems as they are, but actually there’s a shift we need, to rethink the system, so that we are offering support to families, rather than assessing their abilities to parent.”

Megan Brodie and Tanveer Sian spoke from Social Finance. Social Finance is an organisation that works with the government, the social sector and financial community to find better ways of tackling social problems. They described work to develop a framework of outcomes for young people leaving care.

From The Mulberry Bush, the CEO John Diamond explained how his organisation helps to meet the needs of emotionally troubled and traumatised children and young people in a residential context. A full copy of John Diamond’s speech can be found here.

The event featured a keynote address by Sir James Munby, immediate past president of the Family Bench, and Chair of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory.

Sir James said:

“There is an intractable problem […] providing the financial and other support that kinship carers so desperately need. Substantial increases are essential in the funding made available by central government to local authorities, which are under-resourced and gravely over-stretched.”

Sir James also called for more research and evidence on the care system to inform policy and decision making. A recording of Sir James’ full keynote speech can be found below and a written version can be found here.

An animation to provoke discussion was prepared in advance of the event and shown during.

Renuka Jeyarajah-Dent, Coram’s Deputy CEO and Director of Operations, said:

“Coram’s purpose since 1739 has been to improve chances for children. We decided to host this event to move the discussion on permanency forward, from seeing permanency in the nature of a care placement, to a more holistic view of the child as a whole person, with needs for care and support from others which will last throughout their life. Our credibility as a voice for children and young people enables us to bring together professionals with a part to play in delivering practical solutions.”

The event was made possible by funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

More about the event can be found on Coram’s Twitter feed (@Coram) and the main Coram website here.

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