Thursday, 4 September 2014

'On the issue of evidence ...we will have to agree to differ'. On that, at least, we can agree!

This is probably the final instalment in the long running saga of our attempt to engage the Government's Strategic Reform Partner, the charity consortium the Council for Disabled Children (CDC), in open discussion about the evidence supporting the Children and Families Act.

You may remember that their Director, Christine Lenehan, had welcomed the CFA calling it an "important step to getting better outcomes for children and young people".

We wrote to Ms Lenehan about this in March asking her if she had any evidence to support this statement. We received a reply on 28 July. You can read more about this here and here.

We were grateful for Ms Lenehan's response but we wrote back as we felt she hadn't answered our question. You can read our letter here.

Ms Lenehan  promptly replied to our further letter setting out the changes the CDC had 'championed' (i.e. joined-up working, 0-25 approach and the Local Offer). Her response can be read here. Ms Lenehan concluded:

"We believe therefore that the new reforms mark a real opportunity for change and through our networks and partnerships we will be challenging government to ensure they deliver."

It was helpful of Ms Lenehan to share her opinions but the question of evidence had, we felt, still been ignored.

So, we wrote to Ms Lenehan again noting the continued failure to supply examples of any evidence to support her contentions that the reforms are an "important step to getting better outcomes".You can read our letter here

In the letter we noted that we saw no evidence supporting that contention that the legal changes introduced by the CFA will make any discernible difference to most of the day to day struggles parents face (e.g. evidence from pilots, research etc). We also noted the consistent use of rhetoric rather than evidence: e.g. 'parents' champion', 'parents feel more supported than ever', 'co-production' etc etc.

Ms Lenehan has responded with this letter.

It helpfully informs us that disagreements in the disabled children's sector are not uncommon but it confirms that:

'On the issue of evidence ...we will have to agree to differ'

We agree. We will have to disagree because we have asked for evidence and none has been forthcoming. This is disappointing. We can only conclude that the comment was an opinion or a hope rather than a statement supported by concrete evidence. 

Of course, if we are wrong in our conclusion, we are happy to be be put right by public reference to the evidence we have been asking for over the last 6 months.

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