Calum Munro says children and young people with additional support needs are too important to be a topic for political point scoring
This week sees a debate in Holyrood on the named person. Politicians will debate and dissect the concept and it will get emotive with, no doubt, individuals linking the concept to the recent tragic death of Liam Fee in Fife.
I wonder how many of our politicians have sat with families of children and young people with additional support needs and heard their tales of fighting through a morass to get to services as their situation worsens and their energy is sapped?
The plight of families in this situation is too important to be a political point scoring issue. We need all our politicians to rediscover the shared commitment to our children and young people that has existed in parliament before.
I have taken testimony from folk who were driven to the edge of a mental health crisis and beyond by chasing support and having to constantly repeat their taleCalum Munro
The named person concept was asked for by families who struggled to get information from services when they had concerns about their children and young people. Under the old systems they were often passed from pillar to post. Having a named person means that when they seek help they go to one person, tell their story once and the named person has the duty to seek the most appropriate support to address their queries or needs.
I have taken testimony from folk who were driven to the edge of a mental health crisis and beyond by chasing support and having to constantly repeat their tale. The named person is a point of contact to be approached by families or young people. It is not an intrusive moral guardian. Linking the named person to the Liam Fee case is wrong. Liam Fee’s carers did not seek help, rathey they appear to have tried to hide from services. The case review will have to determine how child protection services failed Liam.
But the named person system is not in itself about child protection. There are thousands of families across Scotland who have concerns about their children and young people who are worried that they may have additional support needs and as caring carers they need a simple single point of contact system that reduces the risk of their wasting precious time and energy that should be spent on their child or young person or on their own needs.
Scotland has an opportunity to address this wrong with a simple system. Once the concept is in place politicians have to put adequate funding into all aspects of education, social work and child health. But without the simple single point of contact carers will be prey to a return to the old ways and of being passed around from service to service.
Calum Munro was formerly policy lead to Highland Children’s Forum