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Islanders are asked to help with care review

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JERSEY’S progress in providing ‘consistently high standards’ of care for vulnerable children is to be reviewed – two years since the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry report was released.

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The inquiry panel – made up of chair woman Frances Oldham QC, Alyson Leslie and Sandy Cameron – are due to return to the Island next week to review the Island’s response to their damning 2017 report, which laid bare the decades of failings that allowed children in Jersey care homes to suffer abuse.

A series of public hearings and round-table discussions are to be held over the next two weeks before a short report is issued in the summer.

And, in an open letter published in full on page 8, the panel have urged Islanders with experience of the care system to take part in the latest stage of the review.

The 2017 report highlighted decades of abuse and made a string of recommendations to improve the Island’s care systems. Several of those have already been implemented.

In the letter, the panel said: ‘Alongside the bleak and harrowing accounts we heard of painful, neglectful and abusive experiences in Jersey’s care system over many decades, we also encountered stories of exceptional people who tried to provide nurturing care and sought to improve standards.

‘During the third phase of the inquiry as we looked to develop recommendations we visited many organisations and met many individuals in Jersey who impressed and inspired us by their commitment to children and young people and their vision for the future of services for them.

‘The adoption of the Historic Redress Scheme, the establishment of a fully independent inquiry, the Chief Minister’s fulsome apology to Jersey’s care leavers and the States’ commitment to adopt all our recommendations have been symbolic of a determination across the Island to learn from the failings of the past and create a different future for vulnerable children in Jersey.’

Since the 2017 report, Jersey has appointed its first Children’s Commissioner – Deborah McMillan – to protect and champion children’s rights, its first Children’s Rights Officer, Sheree Maher, and its first Children’s Minister, Senator Sam Mézec.

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The panel is to meet Islanders and organisations working with children or concerned about child welfare next week before politicians, senior civil servants and service managers for public hearings at St Paul’s Centre the following week. A full timetable will be available on the inquiry’s new website, www.ijcipanel.org.

‘Our task over the next few weeks is to determine whether all Jersey’s new investment, programmes and activity have had a positive impact on the systemic problems our recommendations sought to address and have started to bring about better outcomes for children and families in the Island,’ the panel added. ‘We know that two years is insufficient time for every problem to have been resolved but we want to find out if there are truly green shoots of transformation emerging and if so, whether they are sustainable and guaranteed the nurture and protection they will need to thrive and deliver consistently high standards of care and protection for children in years to come.’

The panel are also encouraging Islanders to take part in an online survey to discuss Jersey’s progress since the initial review. The survey can be found at www.jerseysurvey.online.

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