We are writing this in what feels like the all-consuming twilight of a lockdown Saturday night. Options are limited. One thing on our minds as we message each other about PFAN (this website), and our thoughts and feelings about parents’ expertise in the system, is a particular journey we took in pre-lockdown February. … We want to bring something about our thoughts on the idea of ‘team’, about the responsibility of managers in our human system that provides services to families, and about re-framing the notion of ‘leadership’ and ‘who leads’. The pre-lockdown travels to Birmingham gave us a wonderful opportunity to live that out in real time. In that photo is a mix of parent activists and managers. Unless you knew all of us, you wouldn’t know, nor should it matter, which is which, which brings us to the idea of team and togetherness.
Parents faced with the child protection system feel powerless and alone. There is a growing evidence that shows “the importance of connecting families newly involved with the system to parents who have already experienced the child welfare system, who can mentor, encourage, and instill hope for the journey ahead.” Parent advocacy helps parents to respond to the complex, challenging and overwhelming system. It helps to bridge the power imbalance between social workers and parents. And it helps parents to engage more effectively with the system and self-advocate in it. Supporting parents to engage effectively is in the best interests of the child, parents and everyone involved.