As stated in the Guidance to The Children Act 1989 (DoH et al 2000)  ‘since discrimination of all kinds is an everyday reality in many children’s lives, every effort must be made to ensure that agencies responses do not reflect or reinforce that experience and, indeed, should counteract it.’

Various research findings have consistently found that disabled children and families from ethnic minority groups receive a poorer service than children who do not come from these groups.

Ethnic minority families, and families with children having disabilities, may face personal and institutional discrimination. Such issues compound other problems of parenting.

Principles

  • All children, irrespective of culture and ability, can potentially be subject to neglect or abuse.   
  • The assessment process should maintain a focus on the needs of the individual child.
  • Cultural factors neither explain nor condone acts of omission or commission which place a child at risk of not achieving their potential.
  • All children have a right to grow up safe from harm, with opportunities to achieve to the best of their potential, and to enjoy life  
  • Professionals should guard against myths and stereotypes – both positive and negative – of black and minority ethnic families, and children with disabilities.
  • Anxiety about being accused of racist practice should not prevent the necessary action being taken to help promote a child’s well-being and protect them from harm.
  • Abuse to a child may be disguised by the disability so that therefore professionals need to be aware of broader issues when undertaking assessments.  
  • Professionals should be sensitive to differing family patterns and lifestyles, and to child rearing patterns that vary across different racial, ethnic and cultural groups.
  • Professionals should be aware of the broader social factors that serve to discriminate against black and minority ethnic people, and people with disability.
  • Working in a multi-racial/cultural society requires professionals and organisations to be committed to equality in meeting the needs of all children and families.
  • Professionals need to understand the effects of harassment, discrimination and institutional discrimination, as well as cultural misunderstanding or misinterpretations.

This Outline Guidance is to assist practitioners and professionals when working with all families and the following considerations should be applied at all times:

  • Services provided should be flexible, easily accessed and should be of good quality.
  • Facilities should be made available to address the special physical and emotional needs of children.
  • Each agency should have coherent processes to respond to the initial contact, or referral and assessment processes such as MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub), which involve families in deciding how their needs will be best met.
  • Plans and reviews of children’s needs should be carried out in accordance with regulation and guidance, and should include objectives and a record of steps taken to achieve these.
  • Communication needs of all children and their families should be met when they have contact with any agency. Information about available services should always be provided in ways which they can understand. Additional support may need to be provided where literacy and or language skills prevent access to records. It will also be important to provide copies of all relevant documentation in accessible formats; this could include Braille for those with visual impairments or ‘easy read’ formats for those with learning disabilities. It might also be appropriate to provide translation services and BSL interpreters.
  • All agencies should have non-discriminatory service delivery, recruitment and employment practices, which underpin a commitment to equal opportunities.
  • All agencies should have clear and comprehensive policies and procedures for provision of services.
  • Workers should not be afraid to ask for help or to accept assistance.
  • Assumptions should not be made about how a particular family works or receives support.
The Race Relations (Amendment ) Act 2000 following the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report extends the Race Relations Act 1976 to the functions of public authorities in general and not just the police.  Public authorities now have a duty to ensure that, as policy makers and service providers, they consult ethnic minority representatives to take account of the potential impact of policies on ethnic minorities, monitor the actual impact of policies and services, publish and consult on the findings of the impact assessment, and take remedial action when necessary to address any unexpected or unwarranted disparities.