We have embarked upon a programme of webinars for our staff about some of the important issues for children in our work. At the first webinar, 49 staff joined for an intensive discussion about parental alienation, particularly the impact of alienating behaviours by one or both parents or carers on children.
Feedback was that the webinar increased awareness and understanding of the issues, which could be taken back to teams, and that it would have a positive impact on frontline practice. The main points will be incorporated into the development of our guidance for staff.
The thinking behind the webinars is that an intensive half hour focus on a specific issue is likely to lead to participants being able to apply learning effectively. It is akin to interval training in sport or short coaching sessions in a game about exactly how to play and what is required.
We experience a high level of interest from staff to discuss practice issues and the corresponding policy framework. It makes me wonder if a crowdsourcing approach to developing practice guidance both inside Cafcass and with stakeholders and service users – our ‘experts by experience’ – might have merit in the future. We will probably explore this over the next few months by raising one or two issues for wider engagement and comment in a structured process.
Next month's topic
The next webinar will be on what needs to be in the evidence-base to distinguish between special guardianship or adoption for a child in care who cannot return home. This fits with work we are leading across the sector on producing guidance about the evidence-base needed in a care application based upon emotional abuse or neglect of a child. These are the two fastest rising types of care application. A lack of clarity about what constitutes a sufficient evidence-base either for removal of a child or for one type of placement over another, is the cause of confusion and avoidable clashes in proceedings – to some extent avoidable with a clearer set of standards.