ACE acknowledges that we are part of a sector and country where racism has proliferated and is embedded within society, creating barriers that lead to a mistrust of public services. We see this for example in the overrepresentation of ‘Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic’ (‘BAME’) children within the Looked After system, the fact that ‘BAME’* children wait longer for adoptive placements, and within ACE the lack of racial diversity within our staff group.
We recognise that everyday experiences of structural inequalities and racial injustice, in addition to racial violence witnessed first-hand or in the media, affects BAME children, prospective adopters and parents and staff and causes psychological and emotional trauma. We are aware that racism, in all its pervasive forms, impacts our children’s ability to succeed and to feel like they belong, our adopters’ ability to engage in the assessment process and training, and our staff’s ability to feel understood, irrespective of our values and this statement.
These words are important, but they are just words. They are backed by our actions. Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Statement states that:
it is expected that everyone contributes to ensuring that ACE is a safe, welcoming and productive environment, where there is equality of opportunity, fostered in an environment of mutual respect and dignity.
Reports of racism and microaggressions will be fully investigated with a zero tolerance stance. Staff are encouraged to engage with the Global Ethnic Majority (GEM) staff network. We understand that because of difference, and perception of difference, a person's life experience may include oppression, marginalisation and alienation as well as privilege, power and acclaim. We identified this and to further promote equality, we have sought to increase the racial diversity amongst our Adoption Panel members and in visual communications so adopters come in to contact with others who look like them during different stages of their journey. We pledge to challenge negative stereotypes and encourage positive role models and portrayals of minority groups.
We encourage our staff at all levels to engage in a variety of training and opportunities for reflection, e.g. cultural humility and awareness, to explore unconscious bias and how we can support our adoptive parents in their responsibility to raise children to be anti-racist thinkers. A Black Lives Matter (BLM) Conversation Group brought together a range of staff to focus on pertinent issues and experiences, reflect in a safe space and devise this statement. Specific BLM Managers meetings focus on strategies and actions to achieve our aspirations for change and development. We thank people of colour who have given their time and emotional labour to share their own stories to educate the wider service and therefore support our ambition to change, however slow and frustrating this may feel.
These are some of the actions we are taking, but we acknowledge these actions alone do not reflect the enormity of the challenge. As such, we are committed to continuing to develop and work towards our goal of achieving not just a ‘non-racist’ but an anti-racist and inclusive organisation supported by Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) as our underlying therapeutic model. The relationships that staff have built with each other and the families who use our services support open and honest conversations and reflection and learning from each other, showing curiosity, interest, and celebrating differences whilst striving to repair and improve relationships.
We may not always get it right first time but we are listening, we are learning, and we are taking action in order to change. We want to ensure everyone is seen, heard, valued, and feels safe.
*It is acknowledged that this terminology is complex, contested and dynamic and this population in fact represents a global majority.