TRAIN has been working to support Traveller and Romani families who are experiencing child protection involvement since 2015. It was set up to respond to urgent need and because no other specific support for Traveller and Romani children and families in child protection existed in the UK.
Since 2015, TRAIN has been providing free telephone advice and support to parents whose children are in need, at risk, or are in the care system, and with members of the wider family or community who are raising children unable to remain at home. TRAINs main aim has been working on capacity building to help Traveller and Romani communities to help themselves. TRAIN has always been managed by two volunteer social workers and each year the work that TRAIN has been involved in has grown. In 2017, for example, TRAIN provided help and support to 61 families. TRAIN enabled people's voices to be heard, and it has enabled the situation of child protection to reconsidered and to be taken seriously. Whilst advocating for one family a Judge made it clear that without TRAINs involvement the outcome of Care Proceedings would have been quite different.
Today a growing number of organisations are beginning to see and exploit the need to provide help and support to families in matters related to child protection. There is now money available to organisations so that they can fund advocates, online media tools, training videos and information services and all of the other things that TRAIN has been providing. What TRAIN has done for the last 3 years on a free and voluntary basis, other well meaning organisations are now receiving payment to do as well. For this reason, the work that TRAIN has been championing has come to a natural end.
The fact that more organisations are working to support Traveller and Romani families who are experiencing child protection services is fantastic. As many of these organisations are also grassroots Traveller and Romani Community groups, TRAIN's aim to work on capacity building to help Traveller and Romani communities to help themselves has seemingly been achieved, not through consultation though, but by example, innovation and leadership.
TRAIN hopes that those people who found the strength to ask for help in the past will enable others in the future to speak out about the situation that they are in and to seek support early and without delay. It hopes that other well meaning funded services are able to understand and cope with the complexity of child protection policy, and it hopes that the new organisations taking over TRAIN's role are sufficiently knowledgeable and skilled to spot and challenge procedural irregularity and to fight for natural justice, without compromise, in a way that Traveller and Romani families urgently require and deserve.
Most importantly TRAIN hopes that the unique challenges faced by Traveller and Romani families in Child Protection will not be dismissed, minimised or denied. If the significant discrimination that Traveller and Romani face in child protection is not taken seriously, all of the work that TRAIN has tried to achieve and all of the lobbying work it has done will be undone.
Traveller and Romani Advice and Information Network
Local authority social services support families and safeguard children who may be at risk of harm, whether from family members or others. Families often feel anxious at the prospect of social services’ involvement because of experiences they may have heard from others, or just because they are frightened that social workers will remove their children from the family home.
These fears are natural but a child will only be removed if there is very clear evidence that they are at risk of significant harm, and there is a court order in place too. If the social worker considers that your child is in immediate danger, the police can take a child into ‘police protection’, but they have to return your child to your care within the next 48 hours unless the court makes an Emergency Protection Order (EPO).
There are different departments in social services. These support varying needs. There is an adult social services department which provides services to the elderly and working age adults who have learning difficulties, physical or mental health problems, or addictions.
If a child is looking after a parent with a disability, they might be referred to as a ‘young carer’ and there may be special provisions in place to help if this is the situation. Often, social care services for adults who have a mental illness or an addiction are provided by a mental health trust.
It is common for these different departments to work together if a family or individual needs this. The aim is to coordinate their services in the interests of the family as a whole. If there are concerns that a child may be suffering, or is at risk of harm, the work with the family will be led by a social worker from the children’s services department (sometimes referred to as Children’s Social Care).
Social services and your family