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Care inquiry: ‘Jersey needs balance between migration controls and recruitment of key social workers’

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BALANCING migration controls and the need to attract key workers to the Island is one of the most important challenges facing the States in responding to the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, a senior civil servant has said.

Tom Walker, pictured with former Home Affairs Minister Kristina Moore, was one of those who gave evidence this week

The inquiry panel is holding a series of public hearings this week to monitor Jersey’s response to their damning 2017 report into decades of systemic failings in the Island’s care system.

At the first hearing yesterday Tom Walker, director general for Strategic Policy, Performance and Population, and Andrew Heaven, head of Children’s Services policy, both gave evidence.

They both said the ongoing government-change programme would create an environment which would reduce the risk of the failings that were documented by the inquiry from being repeated.

Mr Walker said the States Employment Board needed to be given more scope to focus on strategic aims such as a ‘people’s strategy’ for the public sector rather than ‘second or third tier issues’.

He added that making Jersey an attractive place for key workers, such as children’s social workers, to live extended to their families.

He also said that any new migration policy needed to factor those challenges in to the legislation to ensure the Island was responding properly to the inquiry.

‘It is getting the balance right between migration controls that the public expect because the population of the Island is critical to the quality of life but equally ensuring the ability to vary those controls when it is in line with the best interests of the Island, whether that is for a key worker or their family.

‘I haven’t heard Islanders saying they don’t want key workers. I think a lot of the balance here is around controlling the things that need to be controlled but being intelligent and sensitive about the application of those controls in certain circumstances.

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‘One of the key actions that followed on from the care inquiry was around resourcing a social-worker-training programme. We can create more opportunities for Islanders in these professions.’

He added that the Islandwide response to the inquiry’s 2017 report had been pleasing in that there had been an ‘acceptance of the failings’ and a ‘real desire to face up to the truth’.

The hearings were due to continue today with Education Minister Tracey Vallois among those due to appear.

The panel is due to report back on progress made this summer.

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