John Role (Malta)
Over the last 40 years, John Role has worked as a social worker in residential care for children and in foster care. Living with vulnerable children made him rise up to the challenge to help them change certain social work practices and legislation in his own country. Between 2004 and 2006 on a European level John represented IFCO and his native Malta in setting up the European Out-of-Home Care Standards. Such work resulted in bringing about change in the national policies. Between 1998 and 2009 John was a Board member giving advice to Ministers who are responsible for children in care in his native country. At present, Mr Role works at the Government-run agency. He leads a team of social workers whose role is to train, support, monitor, and supervise foster carers. John also works as a part-time lecturer at the University of Malta. He served previously on the IFCO Board in 2007-2009.
"During all these years in working with vulnerable children it still amazes me that although a lot of work that has been done for the rights of children in alternative care, the challenge to do more is always there. New life experiences bring about new challenges. Becoming an IFCO board member makes this role to bring about better change more realistic. From my experience in both residential care and foster care children and young people who manage to have stability in life will eventually become better persons. The traumas that some children pass through can only be addressed if such stability is reassured. Moving from one placement to another is very damaging. In some countries children experience loads of multiple placements. These experiences changes the structure of the Brain of these minors which if are not addressed might have lifelong consequences. Children and young people loose trust in adults who are supposed to protect them. In our country we are trying to introduce this concept of stability in foster care by the introduction of permanent placement in our legislation. The Maltese National Foster Care Association is forwarding proposals to the Maltese government how to support children and young people in Foster Care to achieve this goal. This means that it give more voice to the child in foster care especially if s/he feels safe at his or her present placement. This does not exclude contact with the birth family or reunification but always at the readiness of the child come first.
I hope that other countries who are experiencing similar situations can contribute to bring better change in the lives of children and young people."