Health Minister Robin Swann has announced a review of children’s social care services in Northern Ireland will begin in February 2022.
Professor Ray Jones will be the independent lead reviewer assisted by an Advisory Panel. Members of the Advisory Panel are Her Honour Judge Patricia Smyth, Professor Pat Dolan, and Marie Roulston, OBE (former Director of Children’s services), along with young people and parents/ carers with personal experience of children’s social care services. The young people, parents and carers are being independently recruited and supported by the Voice of Young People in Care (VOYPIC) and Children in Northern Ireland (CiNI).
“We want this review to have a real and lasting impact on the lives of children and families across the region,” commented Alicia Toal, Chief Executive of VOYPIC.
“It is essential that the voices, experiences and ideas of children and young people with lived experience of care and other children’s services are at the heart of the review. We look forward to supporting this process over the coming year, including by establishing and facilitating an Experts by Experience Reference Group.”
More details about the Experts by Experience Reference Group will be published next week, alongside information on other ways young people can have their voice heard in the review.
Alicia continued: “We must take this opportunity not only to look back, but also to explore how we will care for children and young people going forward. We encourage the panel members to be ambitious in their work, and hope that the process will lead to the outcome of transformational change in services that support children and young people, and their families, across Northern Ireland.”