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goodenoughcaring.com is an arena for the discussion of  issues of interest to parents, foster parents, residential child care workers, counsellors, youth support workers, social workers, teachers, mentors, social pedagogues,  educateurs  and to young people who are, and adults who have been, in care. If you are interested in, or involved in the care,upbringing and education of  children and young people or in the nurturing of children and young people who are unable to live with their own families  goodenoughcaring.com  is a site for you. The website welcomes  thoughtful views – personal, practical or theoretical –  about the care of children and young people.  If you want to comment about  child care or about goodenoughcaring.com  then  e mail:  goodenoughcaring@icloud.com

The goodenoughcaring.com site is archived at the British Library.

The goodenoughcaring journal is an online publication which invites anyone wishing to publish papers and articles about  parenting, nurture, child care work and related fields or those wishing to write about their child care experiences to submit as e mail attachments  papers or articles for publication to the editors at goodenoughcaring@icloud.com.

The members of the editorial group are Cynthia Cross, Evelyn Daniel, Siobain Degregorio, Jeremy Millar, Jane Kenny, Ariola Vishnja, Mark Smith, John Stein and Charles Sharpe. The current issue was published online on 18th, June, 2014 and  the next issue will be published on December 15th,  2014. The Journal index can be found at http://www.goodenoughcaring.com/the-journal/

Shipping News: Issue 17 of the goodenoughcaring Journal draws closer

The forthcoming issue of the goodenoughcaring Journal may just still be over the horizon but our trusty ship-to-ship semaphore relays to us that our craft is approaching shore steadily with a prospective mooring date of  July 1st, 2015.

The principal cargo of this voyage will be provided by the Mulberry Bush School and by others, like Siobain Degregorio, who have had connections with it. The hold will also contain goods from Maurice Fenton, Michael J. Marlowe, John Molloy, John Stein, Bethlehem Taylor, Charles Sharpe and others. Watch this page for further news.

SIRCC National Conference, Glasgow : Steps to Success: Supporting quality transitions through and beyond residential child care

The Scottish Institute of Residential Child Care is holding its 2015 national conference on June 9th and 10th at the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow. The theme of the conference is Steps to Success: Supporting quality transitions through and beyond residential child care. This seems timely, given that in January 2015 the Scottish Government in announced increased rights and support for young people leaving care.

It is intended that the conference will take delegates through the challenges of transitions for looked after children and young people.

Explore the range of workshops here

Find out about the speakers

Book a place online

The Child Care History Network Conference, July 3rd, 2015 – Children’s Homes: Learning from the Past to Make Things Better for the Future

 The Child Care History Network has announced its forthcoming conference Children’s homes: learning from the past to make things better for the future.

The conference will take place on Friday, July 3rd, 2015, from 9.30 am to 5.00pm  at Hinsley Hall, 62 Headingley Lane, Leeds LS6 2BX

Confirmed speakers and participants in a day designed for sharing experience and discussion are:

Dame Gillian Wagner, who will welcome delegates to the conference, David Lane; John Burton; Dr. Keith White; Five Rivers Child Care; The North Yorkshire team from the No Wrong Door Project; Dove Care Services; NSCAP; Dr. Mark Kerr, University of Kent; Jonathan Stanley; and more, to be confirmed.

Conference fees: £60 CCHN members / £80 non-members

This includes coffee on arrival, morning coffee and biscuits, a two course buffet lunch, with vegetarian options and afternoon tea and cakes.

To secure a place:

Please send a cheque made payable to CCHN with the accompanying form (download the form here) to:

Joan Vickers c/o  P.E.T.T., Barns Centre, Church Lane, Toddington, Nr. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL4 5DQ

Or, to pay securely online, please select one of the options in the drop-down menu below. If you would like to join CCHN first, to take advantage of the lower fee on this and future events, please GO HERE.


No. 17 of the goodenoughcaring Journal – The Mulberry Bush Issue – goes online on July 1st, 2015.

On July 1st , 2015,   Issue 17 of the goodenoughcaring Journal will be published online. The core theme of our next issue is the work of the Mulberry Bush Organisation.

Founded as the Mulberry Bush School in 1948 by the child psychotherapist, Barbara Dockar-Drysdale, with support of the paediatrician and psychoanalyst, D.W. Winnicott, the Mulberry Bush has, throughout its history, offered therapeutic care, support and education to children. In recent decades the Mulberry Bush has diversified its services and provides therapeutic care and support to smaller groups and it has also developed as a centre for professional training in therapeutic care and education. The essays and articles about the Mulberry Bush will be written by people working there and by people who are or have been associated with it.

Other articles about childhood and child care matters will appear in this issue, as well as reviews of recent publications.

Further details about this Issue 17 will appear on this page during the coming weeks.



Where does the buck stop with Child Sexual Exploitation?  Setting the record a little “straighter”


What happened to children who were sexually exploited by groups of adults in Rochdale, Rotherham and Oxfordshire is abhorrent to most of us. Those who were working to support children in these places at those times are no doubt filled with sadness and no doubt deep regret that somehow they were not able to make an effective intervention. Still, it is surely right that our primary priorities are to work towards ensuring that events like these cease and to make sure that the evil, cynical perpetrators of these crimes against children are the ones who are brought to justice.

David Cameron’s determination to jail people  – social workers, teachers and others involved with children  –  whom he alleges have ignored child abuse when they were aware of it may appear to be a decisive and populist reaction but it cannot be the solution to a labyrinthine problem. The idea that the threat of a jail sentence will improve the work performance of someone whose job is to engage with and help families and children who are often isolated, anxious, desperate, fearful and overly defensive, is absurd. There should be little doubt that the United Kingdom’s prime minister is sincere in wanting an end to child sexual exploitation though after more considered reflection he may ask himself how far his net will be cast in his search for guilty parties. Indeed he may even ask “Where does the buck stop ?” His adamant statement of intent is one of a leader whose government has cut education, social care and health services to children. This has left fewer people to do more and more work as the consequences of his government’s austerity measures make life for poor and vulnerable people increasingly intolerable. While our political leaders and our media are quick to pronounce upon the failure of public servants they are less meticulous in analysing its causes.

The Serious Case Review into Child Sexual Exploitation carried out at the request the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Group by an independent reviewer, Alan Bedford, suggests some social workers, police officers, health workers, teachers and their managers may not have dealt capably with what was happening to these children in Oxfordshire. No doubt some should be held to account for this but also we should remember that they are not the ones who committed unspeakably evil acts upon children. It may be a surprise to some, but the vast majority of people who in one way or another work to support and to educate children want the children to flourish. Those of us who have been involved in work with children at risk will understand how it is possible for mistakes to be made even when our action or our decisions are meant for the best. It would be good if some politicians were to acknowledge that this is also true in their line of work.

What the somewhat squewed media headlines omitted, as the prime minister used the publication of the Serious Case Review as the backdrop to his own child sexual exploitation publicity event – held yesterday (March 3rd, 2015) at 10 Downing Street  –  is that the text of the review contained a number of observations that were not a fit with the sensationalist way this tragic matter was being reported. For instance the review’s author stressed how in the end, workers from a number of disciplines in children’s services ensured that these dreadful matters came to light. Setting the record straight, Alan Bedford concludes :

“Ultimately, it was the efforts of staff on the ground, and their observations and persistence, which was the main driver in the eventual identification of Child Sexual Abuse.”

“The discovery of what later emerged in the Bullfinch inquiry and trial was led not by leaders and strategic bodies but by more junior staff working nearer the coalface. A drugs worker for the City Council, a social worker, and a detective inspector, on their own initiative, and in the absence of any strategic work, each led a number of meetings which were unknown to the OSCB or top managers. Their efforts eventually culminated in a shared recognition that there was group-related exploitation of multiple girls. Action from this point became coordinated and successful.”

The report also comments on the honesty and openness of the workers questioned during the review process and mentions the progress the various agencies involved have made towards making improvements in their practice :

“The vast majority of the information for this SCR has come from the agencies’ own internal reviews, so the accounts of any deficits in performance have come from the agencies themselves voluntarily, and reflect a laudable willingness to be open about the past. They were equally forthcoming when the author made additional inquiries. The learning in Oxfordshire has already been significant, with much good practice now in place, and a professional mind-set now attuned to CSE, with children seen as children, however they behave. There is a growing arsenal of tools to identify, prevent, disrupt and prosecute CSE. Operation Bullfinch and subsequent prosecutions have shown concerted and rigorous action.” *

There are other observations which might be cited from the text but like those above they do not serve a table thumping, simplistic, righteous, scapegoating and narrow point view. It was interesting to note that while this was overwhelmingly the headline story on BBC television morning news yesterday, it was not mentioned at all today.

At the risk of sounding as moralistic as the prime minister, in the longer term we should strive to make sure as much as we can that this exploitation is brought to a halt by creating a society which truly cares about each of its individual members.  We may not always succeed but we should never stop trying. This will be a society which genuinely accepts the responsibilities implicit in that now cheapened phrase “We’re all in it together.”  We should be striving to create a community in which there are no winners or losers, where there are no exploiters of any kind and none who are exploited.


*Excerpts from the Serious Case Review into Child Sexual Exploitation in Oxfordshire: from the experiences of Children A, B, C, D, E, and F. Accessed at http://www.oscb.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/SCR-into-CSE-in-Oxfordshire-FINAL-FOR-WEBSITE.pdf

Research request about ‘negative mothering’

Michelle Linger, the Director of St Michael’s Child and Youth Centre, in Plumstead, Cape Town, South Africa, has sent us the following request.

I was just enquiring if anybody has done any extensive research on the impact of either the complete lack of mothering on young girls or “negative mothering” on young girls. I am the director of a facility for young girls aged 13yrs to 18yrs and before this appointment spent many years in the field of child and youth care and have noticed the impact that mothers have on their daughters.This said I am concerned that we are perhaps not doing enough with regards to this issue to safeguard young girls who grow up in care and are therefore never really mothered correctly and I have come to the conclusion that you cannot mother yourself or anybody else that you might bring into this world if you haven’t been mothered yourself.

Michelle can be contacted at director@stmikesct.org.za

A thought for the end of this year, 2014


“We learn things better through love than through knowledge.”


From Umberto Eco’s 1980 novel  The Name of the Rose,   a  “whodunnit”  full of dramatic action  imbued with philosophical, semiotic and theological discourse set, during the 14th century, within the forbidding cloistered fortress of an Italian monastery.


More about the Issue 16 of the goodenoughcaring Journal now published online

John Stein launches Issue 16  of the goodenoughcaring Journal with his editorial about the significance of relationships for children as they grow up. Supporting John in the ensuing articles, Lorea Boneke, writes about children and young people in care whose important relationships and placements break down.  John Burton provides a cornucopia of rich notes from his work as a consultant to children’s homes, Cynthia Cross helps us explore the rewards of acceptance in a recollection of her relationship with a young man who was in residential care  Evelyn Daniel talks about the failures of relationships at all levels in the care system and considers how this might be put right,  John Diamond presents, in the shadow of recent events in Palestine, the text of a talk he gave in Jerusalem in 2008 about the therapeutic work of the Mulberry Bush School,  Maurice Fenton writes about unity in relationship,  Iain Macleod reflects on his journey through the Scottish care system as he gathered  an identity through relationships with significant others,  Jeremy Millar offers reflections inspired by reading  Borstal Lives, a novel by “Louis Edward,”   Charles Sharpe reviews Social Care Learning from Practice edited by Noel Howard and Denise Lyons,  Mark Smith considers the nature of relationships through the lens of social pedagogy John Stein recalls important relationships in his life other than those with his parents, the late Ian D. Suttie, in an extract from his 1935 book, The Origins of Love and Hate argues that an unnecessary “taboo on tenderness” exists in many human relationships  and.  in a short vignette depicting a scene from a Pupil Referral Unit where she taught,  Christina Williamson raises questions about the relationships between students and teachers and  asks readers to provide the answers.
Read the goodenoughcaring Journal at


Inequality, Poverty, Education A Political Economy of School Exclusion

Palsgrave Macmillan has sent us details of  Inequality, Poverty, Education A Political Economy of School Exclusion  by Francesca Ashurst and Couze Venn which was published earlier this year.




The authors develop a political economy and a genealogy of school exclusion in order to reveal exclusion to be a symptom of more fundamental issues relating to poverty and inequality, reflected in the role of the state in managing their consequences, particularly regarding juvenile delinquency. Using  archival and documentary evidence they uncover the roots of exclusionary practices in political and economic struggles going back to the 19th century. These conflicts, the authors claim, have had decisive effects on key shifts in social and educational policy from the Poor Law Reforms of 1834 to the emergence of the welfare state and the current neoliberal reconstitution of society according to the model of the market. In arguing that competing views of an equitable and just society underlie exclusion, the authors believe their analysis opens up a space for envisaging radical new approaches and practices for dealing with children in trouble.

Francesca Ashurst is an Honorary Research Fellow at Cardiff University, Wales

Couze Venn is Visiting Professor, Goldsmiths, University of London and Associate Research Fellow at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

This book will be reviewed in the June  2015 issue of the goodenoughcaring Journal.

December 15th, 2014 and Issue 16 of the goodenoughcaring Journal has touched down

December 15th and Issue 16 of the  goodenoughcaring Journal is online,  The principal theme of the new issue is the significance relationships have for children as they grow up.




John Stein has composed the Editorial for this issue. The authors providing us with knowledge, experiences and insights in  Issue 16 are Lorea Boneke,  John Burton, Cynthia Cross,  Evelyn Daniel, John Diamond, Maurice Fenton, Iain Macleod, Jeremy Millar, Charles Sharpe,  Mark Smith, John Stein with an additional article,  Ian D. Suttie, and Christina Williamson.