EDITORIAL 4 : Relationships first

By The Editors

Date Posted: Sunday, 14 December 2008


As we write the media is stirring its readers, listeners and watchers to put the blame for the abuse of children where it thinks it is due –  on social workers and social work managers. It would be facile to suggest that they are blameless, particularly the latter. They have acqueisced to meet the current need of politicians and their servile policy makers to devise procedures and checks which  they hope will provide neat, speedy and inexpensive answers to the care of children. Anyone who  thinks beyond a second dimension would have understood that such methods would not meet the needs of troubled children. Bringing up children and in particular caring for other people’s troubled children is a much more sophisticated process and cannot be measured in neat sections which mathematically convert to nice big stars for the organisations who have agreed to go along with making a god of the tick box. The consequence of this is that no one  has got what they wanted  but most importantly the children we are mostly concerned about have not got what they need. Nowhere has this been more evidenced than in residential child care where the latest system of inspecting children’s homes is less searching, less qualitative and less child-centred. It does not look at the quality of relationships between children and workers in any meaningful way. Perhaps inspectors under the present system are firstly not given the time to do this and secondly they themselves may not have received  training in the complexities of relationships and would struggle to carry out such observations.
The authors of the articles in this edition of the goodenoughcaring Journal would not claim to have all the answers for this but they do it seems to us  acknowledge the mutuality and difficulty of the task of  making relationships with vulnerable children as they seek to work with the problems which children encounter.

In Resolutions Cynthia Cross demonstrates how children and professional carers  can resolve issues and grow from them even when adults make serious misjudgments.

Calum Strathie describes the work he and his colleagues in Dundee are doing using the method of Video Interaction Guidance which is helping the relationships between parents who are drug abusers and their children and proposes that it can be as valuable to focus on what is working as it is to focus on with what is failing.

Zoë Readheadthe Principal of Summerhill School and the daughter of its founder A.S. Neill, immerses us in the life and culture of Summerhill and gives us a timely reminder that if you ask youngsters to live and learn in groups you should use the group for therapeutic,social, and educational purposes.
Simon Hammond offers a platform for the views of a residential child care manager who as a child had been in residential child care herself, and from this he compares the recruitment and training problems of  the  residential child care service in England with those of Germany and Denmark.

Shanna  Marrinan recollects how she became a foster carer and  examines the notion that  the decision to become a foster carer should be ‘made for the right reasons’.
John Burton, the author and social care consultant, argues that there is no mystery to therapeutric care and proposes that there should be continuity in thinking about care because it is a lifelong issue.
In this edition we also publish the texts of  the speakers’ presentations at the goodenoughcaring conference Love Is Enough : sincerity and professionalism in the care and education of children and young people which was held on October 4th , 2008 at the Maria Assumpta Centre in London.

Mark Smith’s keynote address Loving or Fearful Relationships  to the conference  expands richly on his article of the same name in our last edition.
Jeremy Millar’s talk entertainingly and insightfully  pursues further the theme in Lost in Translation of who should be working with children in the care system.
Siobain Degregorio asks how we can love troubled young people and also considers how effective shorter term intervention can be.
Using three vignettes Charles Sharpe’s presentation What is this thing called love ?  encourages us to think about what love between a parenting figure and a child is, and to think about why we find it difficult to love other people’s children.

Evelyn Daniel, Siobain Degregorio, Jane Kenny, Ariola Vishnja and Charles Sharpe.




Comment on this article

12 Jan 2009,    Andy Munoz writes
Congratulations to the goodenoughcaring Journal on the new edition from the Journal of Child and Youth Care Work. You are providing a tremendous resource to the field and we know how much hard work it is to complete each edition.All the best from the team at JCYCW, Andy Munoz (Editor)!Dr. Andy Munoz, Ed.D., CYC-P
Vice President & Director

Academy for Educational Development
Center for Youth Development & Policy Research
Washington, D.C.


18 Dec 2008,    Keith White
Keith White suggests that, ‘At some stage it might be appropriate to have something about The Growth of Love.’
18 Dec 2008,    Mark Smith
Mark Smith comments ‘We so need the kind of alternative (in this current managerial climate – actually should be mainstream) views expressed here’.