Friends, Families and Travellers: A Guide For Professionals
Friends, Families and Travellers A guide for professionals working with Gypsies, Roma and Travellers in Children’s Service s.
In a recent analysis of the population of ‘looked after’ children and young people in England, Dan Allen estimated that Gypsy and Traveller children were three times more likely to be taken into care than any other child. Between 2009 and 2015, there has been an increase of 733% of Gypsy or Roma children in foster care and an increase of 200% of Traveller children in foster care.
The disproportionately high presence of Gypsies and Travellers in care necessitates the promotion of an understanding of Gypsy and Traveller culture, values and norms amongst professionals involved throughout the process of safeguarding vulnerable children. Gypsies and Travellers are an often misunderstood and socially excluded group with a distinctive culture and heritage. This can make it problematic for authorities to engage with Gypsies and Travellers effectively and to adopt practices which are culturally appropriate. A history of mistrust and suspicion between Gypsies and Travellers and authorities, arising from a history of institutionalised prejudice and mistreatment means that developing mutually beneficial relationships of trust and positive communication can sometimes be challenging.
Sarah Cemlyn identified two conflicting risks in the often difficult relationship between social workers and Gypsy and Traveller communities. Firstly, the over-involvement of social workers, resulting in children being taken into care unnecessarily and secondly, ignorance of Gypsy and Traveller issues leading to the needs of vulnerable children being left unmet.This paper seeks to outline basic guidelines for professionals working with Gypsies and Travellers in Children’s Services, as well as a list of recommendations for better provision of services at a national level.