Sounding at times more like an East End hard-man than a senior civil servant, Louise Casey gave an interview to the BBC this week for an Inside Out programme about a Prtosmouth police officer returning to his old beat 15 years after ASBOs were introduced.
The lnaguage used in the short interview was, in my opinion, really interesting and was quite aggressive at times, as the quote used in the title of this post shows. Casey also highlighted that the approach taken by the Troubled Families Programme ‘says to the parents, I’m gonna show you and explain to you exactly how to get your kids up and out every single day and then I’m gonna make you do it’ , involves parents ‘taking control’ of their household and that ‘the job is to go through all of the 120,000 families nationally & make sure every one of those is being targeted for that type of intense change’.
Yet at the same time she states that this approach is also ‘incredibly caring’ and suggests that ‘with the right help, the right support’ parents can improve the situation in their homes. I’d absolutely agree with this, but making people do things, getting ‘in their front room’ and threatening them with ‘consequences‘ for not doing something doesn’t sound like any ‘help’ or ‘support’ that I’m familiar with. One is left in little doubt as to whether the TFP represents a carrot or a stick…
This is a point coincidentally made in article authored by Brid Featherstone, Kate Morris and Sue White called ‘A Marriage Made in Hell: Early Intervention Meets Child Protection’ which I skipped through today. They argue that language matters and suggest that the’intervention’ model needs to be challenged and new options found, perhaps with a focus on family ‘support’. They conclude thus:
We would argue that other ways are to be found rooted in socio-economic analyses of who gets ‘intervened’ with … in unequal societies and in stories from within paradigms that emphasise family’s capabailities rather than their deficits and workers abilities to cheer on change and encourage hope. Checking under beds and telling people what to do should not be our raison d’etre. If it is, then we are definitely part of the problem!
The full transcript of the Lousie Casey interview is below:
“The government has set out 120,000 families nationally, of which actually Portsmouth accounts for about 550 and the job here is to get into those families and change them.
What we know works is this thing called family intervention and what it does is basically get into the actual family, in their front room and if actually the kids aren’t in school it gets in there and says to the parents I’m gonna show you and explain to you exactly how to get your kids up and out every single day and then I’m gonna make you do it.
And if you don’t do it, there are gonna be consequences.
So it’s quite tough, but it’s also incredibly caring.
And that intense approach works, we know it works because we’ve already looked at studies that show that this works, basically, and also I’ve met countless families that have been turned around.
So, you know, we know that that works, it’s a very full on intense approach and the job is to go through all of the 120,000 families nationally & make sure every one of those is being targeted for that type of intense change
This is all about making sure the mum is in control of her household and even with a 14 or 15 year old teenager, quite often when they’re looking at, you know, being sent down, right, who do they call for?
So, all this stuff about “I can’t control him” and those sorts of things just isn’t true.
With the right help, the right support, most parents are able to take control of their households, whether that’s two parents or one parent.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-23896776 – accessed 04/09/2013