The first workshop “Being Counted”, on October 24th in Glasgow, started off the four-part series “Getting it Right for Looked After Disabled Children and Young People”. The series is organised through the Scottish Universities Insight Institute, by the programme team from Action for Children, CELCIS and the University of Strathclyde, CRFR, and the Strathclyde Centre for Disability Research.
Being Counted focused on the challenge of counting and defining disabled looked after children and understanding how looked after disabled children are theoretically constructed across disciplines.
The morning session started with the warm welcome from Dr Graham Connelly, CELSIS, University of Strathclyde. Dr Claire Baker, Senior Policy Manager, Catch 22’ National Care Advisory Service, presented her insights on the challenge of counting and defining disabled looked after children. In her presentation, she demonstrated the lack of standardised statistics – let alone any statistics – on disabled looked after children across the UK. Her research showed that disabled looked after children are less likely to be adopted, but more likely to be placed in residential care or stay in foster care. [for further information about her research, see http://www.iriss.org.uk/resources/permanence-and-stability-disabled-looked-after-children]
Professor Nicholas Watson, Strathclyde Centre for Disability Research, University of Glasgow, presented on “Theorising Disability and its implications for Looked After Children”. Disabled looked after children can face at least three ‘problems’ in terms of claiming services: they are children, they are disabled and they are looked after. He discussed how disability theories encourage attention to ‘barriers to doing’ and ‘barriers to being’, which can be very salient for disabled looked after children. He reflected how research that does include disabled looked after children often fails to include their views, presents the children as passive and ‘vulnerable’, focuses on service provision and their future outcomes.
Both speakers raised questions on definitions of disability: the variability of definitions, the problems of defining and identifying disability, and the differing use of such definitions by different stakeholders (professionals, parents/carers, children and young people). Participants joined groups to discuss in-depth their agencies’ approaches to these issues, the dilemmas and the potential solutions.
More on the afternoon session to follow …
Over the next few weeks, more information will be available from the seminar – podcasts, powerpoints, publications – and we will highlight these over the blog.