The Young ME Sufferers Trust: Why We Oppose The Named Person Legislation
This is a speech given at the Scottish Liberty Forum event ‘Named Person and the Death of the Family’ Lesley Scott Scottish Officer, The Young ME Sufferers Trust.
Tymes Trust is the longest established national UK service for children and young people with the neurological disease Myalgic Encephalomyletis (ME) and their families. To give some context to our opposition to the Named Person legislation, our executive Director Jane Colby wrote in her paper “False Allegations of Child Abuse in Cases of childhood Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)” that “There is no cure for ME. In its absence, management regimes are prescribed, typically based on cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET). In the case of children this may involve the application of Child Protection powers to enforce treatment […] Parents who decline or withdraw children from management regimes, which may have worsened their illness, can find themselves facing investigation for child abuse or neglect.”
Calls to Tymes Trust Advice Line from Scottish families facing such investigation now have GIRFEC and the Named Person at the heart of them.
Recently on a Radio Scotland phone-in a presenter stated that “In place in Scotland at the moment we have the very successful GIRFEC system, Getting It Right For Every Child, which is about nurturing and protecting children …” [Louise White, Radio Scotland 28th Dec 2015 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/ b06sp5vd] I found this a somewhat surprising statement and wondered on what evidence this resounding endorsement was based, given that it was due to a failure to embed GIRFEC throughout the 32 Scottish local authorities that had led a frustrated government to legislate it into statute.
GIRFEC as an approach has been around for some time, but understanding of its process was divergent amongst practitioners and implementation irregular across services. Only through the use of statutory powers making GIRFEC a legal duty could, it would seem, government realise its vision of the universal embedding of GIRFEC across the country. Which raises the question that if it is such a wonderful scheme why does it require the strong arm of statutory legislation in order for the workforce to employ it? And yet GIRFEC, as the Scottish Government documents tell us, already “threads through all existing policy, practice, strategy and legislation affecting children, young people and families.” [A Guide to Getting it right for every child http://www. gov.scot/resource/doc/1141/0065063.pdf]
GIRFEC pervades all aspects of the state’s interaction with parents and children. The Named Person or state guardian scheme is, in the government’s own words a “key element of the GIRFEC approach” and the powers that have been given to these state functionaries through the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act reflect the comprehensive reach and implication of GIRFEC requiring as they do the legally enforceable cooperation of all sectors, agencies and organisations who are involved with children, young people and families, even adult services where the adult is also a parent.
An industry has grown up around children and their parents that promotes a shift in authority and responsibility away from parents and towards the state
However there appears to be a concerning lack of awareness amongst the general public of the absoluteimpact of GIRFEC and the Named Person scheme which hides its illiberal and authoritarian intent behind the banal aim of “Making Scotland the best place to grow up.”
An industry has grown up around children and their parents that promotes this shift in authority and responsibility away from parents towards the state. It encourages parents to think themselves inadequate to the task and undermines their confidence in how they parent their own children.
… government identifying what they consider to be defects and enforcing corrective measures …
There are ever increasing numbers of parenting programmes such as CANparent, Mellow Parenting and Parentskool (spelt s-k-o-o-l) with mission statements about every parent achieving their best through the involvement of ‘professional’ parenting practitioners; then there are organisations like the Social Research Unit Dartington, and the Early Intervention Foundation which gather and assess data on children and families to inform both local and central government on the implementation of early intervention initiatives and promote investment in effective early intervention to local and national policy makers.
As part of this industry in Scotland the Early Years Collaborative is a Scottish Government initiative billed as “the World’s first multi-agency, bottom up quality improvement programme to support the transformation of early years.” [http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/ Young-People/early-years/early-years-collaborative]. It is concerned with putting in place practical actions that will accelerate the conversion of processes and culture within public services to reflect the GIRFEC ideology of early intervention and prevention. To assist in this endeavour all 32 local authorities utilise Community Planning Partnerships which comprise all relevant public, private, voluntary and community bodies in its area to set out a joint vision with agreed objectives in the form of a Community Plan.
The Early Years Collaborative has, through so-called Learning Sessions, educated these Community Planning Partnerships on how to achieve their objectives through something called small tests of change or Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles which actually replicate a process that was developed in the 1950s by William Deming the American statistician, educator and consultant. Deming pioneered his Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles within the manufacturing industry to improve quality control based on a systematic tallying of product defects that includes the identification and analysis of their cause. Once the causes of defects are corrected, the outcomes are tracked to measure the effects of those corrections on subsequent product quality helping management continually gain more and better knowledge particularly about its processes and products.
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