Restorative Practice provides us with a value base, language, behaviours and tools to strengthen relationships with children and families and each other. Our restorative approach focuses on empowering our children and families to find solutions to their problems and recognises them as experts of their own lives.
But what is Restorative Practice? And how are we taking a restorative approach in Devon to deliver our vision?
What is Restorative Practice?
Restorative Practice is about putting strong, meaningful and trusting relationships at the heart of how we work with children and families.
It is about seeing families as experts of the their own experience, and using restorative approaches to repair relationships.
Working with children and families means offering supportive relationships combined with clear goals focussed on the needs of children. It also places an emphasis on family led decision making approaches to solving problems.
Restorative practice also starts with building an organisational culture based on respect and accountability, where we value our professional relationships and take care of each other, but also challenge each other to get the best for children and families in Devon.
What is Restorative Devon?
Restorative Devon is our vision for restorative practice to underpin every interaction with children and families.
It is about creating a shared language and culture, where we focus on building relationships that support good outcomes for children. All practitioners will be able to explore restorative ways of working, benefit from evidence-based approaches, and feel supported by their managers to put this into practice.
We want this to become our way of being, and to think, act and be restorative every day. Restorative Devon is a key part of our commitment to being a child friendly Devon that is inclusive and anti-racist.
What does working restoratively look like in practice?
Our ambition is for everyone who works with children and families to be able to follow a consistent restorative way of working which is guided by our core principles and values and informed by evidence-based approaches.
Consistency does not mean rigidity; our approach is designed to be adaptable and flexible to respond to individual need but is centred on a restorative value base. This will enable practitioners to exercise skilled professional judgement to do the right thing, to provide effective help and support, to clarify the values of the organisation and have the courage to be creative when they must balance difficult and demanding decisions that affect the lives of children.
The ‘Five Rs’
The ‘Five Rs’ are the core principles that make up our Restorative Practice framework and describe the key elements of what it means to work restoratively. This idea was developed by our practitioners in Devon as a way to explain and share the common principles that underpin our work.
Our framework also provides a toolkit of evidence-based techniques to help put restorative principles into practice. Taken together, the principles and toolkit support practitioners to apply their skills, knowledge and experience and do what they came into their profession to do. The people who work with children and families are the foundation of a Restorative Devon.
The Five Rs are:
We are: Trustworthy
We will: Build trust and confidence by being transparent and consistent
We are: Caring
We will: Use language that cares, and everyone understands
We are: Collaborative
We will: Work together to create shared solutions
We are: Participatory
We will: Put the views and interests of children and families at the heart of all levels of decision-making.
We are: Honest
We will: Communicate clearly and openly
We are: Inclusive
We will: Respect the characteristics and backgrounds of children and young people
We are: Empowering
We will: Build on existing strengths and enable families and children and young people, to have control, freedom, and responsibility over their own lives so that positive change is lasting
We are: Informed
We will: Make sure decision-making and planning is evidence-informed, and timely
We are: Risk-aware
We will: Safety planning and risk management that is based in the reality of family life
We are: Trauma-informed
We will: Be trauma and shame-informed and person centred
We are: Curious
We will: Ask curious questions about risk, need and strengths with equal balance
We are: Patient
We will: Understand that sustainable change takes time
We are: Flexible
We will: Use professional judgement, in a context of ‘safe uncertainty’ and ‘authoritative doubt’
We are: Responsive
We will: Thinking together about what needs to happen next
We are: Outcomes-focused
We will: Be clear about what good outcomes for children will be