Multimedia Toolkit for Roma Parents

This project’s main aim was to address a significant need for knowledge and understanding about the legal framework of child protection amongst Roma parents living in the UK.

The project was funded by the Tudor Trust.

 

What we did?

We developed a multimedia toolkit explaining the legal framework of child protection. The toolkit consists of an information guide and a short film illustrating key elements of the legal framework and the skills needed to fully comply with the child protection requirements. The film is narrated by Roma community members in Romanes.

We also delivered three community training sessions for Roma community members: in London, Rotherham and Derby.

Why we did it?

Our motivation to undertake this project stems from a substantial increase in numbers of Roma children in the UK care system in the last five years.

Between 2009 and 2015, there was a 733% increase in the number of Gypsy/Roma children living in foster care. This is compared to a 9.17% increase for the total ‘in care’ population.

Understanding why there has been a disproportionate increase in social work involvement with Gypsy/Roma is complex. However, existing research, frontline casework and data collected by a number of NGOs working with Roma in the UK reveal emerging patterns. Historical disadvantages, linguistic barriers and predominantly negative experiences with public services all play significant part.

However, lack of knowledge about their legal rights and responsibilities have the most profound impact on engagement with social workers and outcomes of the care proceedings. Our project aims to begin to address this problem.

Lack of knowledge about legal rights and responsibilities

Research shows that Roma parents going through the child protection process do not understand their legal rights. This impacts on their ability to engage meaningfully in the process and influence its outcome. This may also be true of other families, but the situation might feel particularly unfamiliar to members of the Roma community if they have had very little contact with public services, and feel under threat from them. As demonstrated in the recent research on Roma families and social work engagement:

“Stress of poverty/poor housing and lack of understanding of social work intervention can become part of a toxic stew increasing downward spiral…Lack of comprehension of processes ‘system illiteracy’… the inability of families to comprehend the assessment system or recognise what is good parenting, or even understanding the concepts associated with parenting were evident in many of the cases discussed” (Greenfields, 2016)

Formal consultation with Roma community members identified the need for more information about the child protection process communicated in a culturally sensitive way and taking into account multiple disadvantages many Roma community members may have.

Furthermore, the Roma Support Group’s survey on social workers’ experiences with Roma families which includes feedback from nearly 300 social workers working across the UK shows that one of the social workers’ top barriers in engagement with Roma families is the Roma community’s lack of understanding about social work procedures and lack of understanding about UK norms in regards to parenting.

It was therefore striking that despite an increasing trend of Roma children in the care system in the UK, there were no information resources available to explain the legal framework of child protection in a way that the community could benefit from.

Who did we work with?

We worked with three Roma organisations: Roma Support Group (London), Clifton Learning Partnership (Rotherham) and Roma Community Care (Derby). The Roma community was involved in all stages of the project delivery: from consultation about the community’s concerns and understanding regarding child protection through involvement in the design of information resource and short film to delivery of training.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Law for Life on this project. It has produced an invaluable resource for Roma families but also the process has been of worth. The planning and delivery of the project has been professional and thorough throughout and it has empowered our staff. All round it has been a fantastic piece of work that we are proud to have been a small part of.”

“This guide is invaluable for those working with Roma families. Equally, it will be of use to anyone who wants to understand more about safeguarding procedures. It is beautifully written, and presented and is easy to understand. It carefully walks you through all the jargon and procedures. The addition of case studies really help to highlight issues.”

– Helen Littlewood, Director, Clifton Learning Partnership

 

We also hope that this resource will be used by Children’s Services to help them make the legal frameworks more accessible and engage more effectively with Roma families.

For further inquiries about this project, please contact Francesca Feruglio:

francesca.feruglio@lawforlife.org.uk

 

  

 

Published: 12 March 2019

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