Changing Practice Through Shared Experiences

Taliah Drayak, parent advocate and trustee of Scotland’s Parent Advocacy and Rights (PAR), explains how PAR worked to ensure that the review did more than just hear individual parents’ stories but also understood the significance of parents’ experiences.

Q: How did PAR prepare parents to connect their stories to ideas for policy and practice change and effectively communicate the significance of their experiences?

DRAYAK: We started with a conference and developed conversations around topics. The next step was collecting each and every parent’s story in length and then discussing and identifying in groups the key themes. This allowed us to present policy makers with direct suggestions of what was habitually going wrong. 

Q: What were some of the challenges parents faced presenting their perspectives?

DRAYAK: There were many challenges, including the aftereffects of trauma, money, time, fear or repercussions and self-doubt.

Q: Do you think parent voice was more effectively heard because PAR existed as an organization, rather than the review meeting with individual parents?

DRAYAK: Absolutely! Having the support of each other empowered us to speak, when many of us wouldn’t have on our own. I think it is human nature that we often find it difficult to advocate for ourselves but we will fiercely hold ground for someone else. 

Equally, as an organization made up of parents and allies, our allies were able to lend weight to what parents were saying. 

Lastly, identifying what our experiences had in common allowed us to speak with a stronger, clearer voice and be heard more effectively.

Q: How important was relationship building with people on the review committee, and how did you build those relationships?

DRAYAK: We were lucky to have Fiona Duncan, who headed the review. She really made the effort to connect and listen. Relationships are hugely important. We had confidence that the Care Review team was our team too. 

Q: Can you tell us anything about the impact the review reports have had so far?

DRAYAK: The promise of change that was attached to the reports was signed up and down the country, which was a clever way to ensure people had to read it. 

There is already reform happening. 

To start, Scottish universities will now guarantee care leavers a place, and all children in care now have a right to a state funded advocate. It’s a shame that the timing of the release of the review’s findings were just before Covid-19 took hold. I hope we can press forward with changes when things settle. 

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