SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
Working Together to Safeguard Children promotes a child centred approach to safeguarding and is clear that practitioners should keep the child in focus when making decisions about their lives and work in partnership with them and their families. Anyone working with children should see and speak to the child; listen to what they say; take their views seriously; and work with them and their families collaboratively when deciding how to support their needs. Special provision should be put in place to support dialogue with children who have communication difficulties, unaccompanied children, refugees and those children who are victims of modern slavery and/or trafficking.
SEND Complaints: Guide for Young People aged 16 to 25 in Education – A guide for young people on how to resolve special education needs and disability (SEND) disagreements.
Council for Disabled Children - Provides useful resources for disabled children and young people.
Participation of children and young people in decisions about their lives is an essential part of growing up and, if done well, it enhances children's safety and well-being and improves services designed to support and protect them. However, in the world of social care participation work often takes place in complex and emotionally charged situations. To be done well it requires a commitment at all levels of an organisation to reflect on and promote:
Hull City Council actively seeks to ensure children and young people are consulted about decisions and processes that affect them. The Munro Review made clear that what is important to children and young people is 'reliability, honesty and continuity'. Hull City Council is committed to ensuring that children and young people are informed about what is happening to them and promotes opportunities for them to contribute to what is happening. The aim is to share and practise positive approaches to effective communication and learning through active listening. Hull City Council is committed to both speaking and listening clearly, purposefully and honestly with children and young people.
Hull City Council seeks to consider identity, diversity, culture, sexual orientation, language, disability, delayed speech, low confidence and trust in all its interactions with both children and adults.
Every member of our staff is committed to seeking and recording the views of every child they work with. They will also record the decisions that are made and the influence that the views of the child / young person have had on those decisions. Where decisions are made that are different from or contrary to the views of the child or young person this will be clearly recorded with the reasons for the decision clearly explained.
In addition, the Hull City Council will ensure that systems are in place to support formal consultation with young people's groups and will seek to aggregate individual issues and concerns so that managers may consider the impact that current services have on young people. This information may be used to inform future developments.
Much has been written on the benefits and barriers to participation in matters that affect them. In brief the benefits for children and young people are:
For parents / carers the benefits of children's participation can be:
For professionals and organisations offering services to children and young people the benefits can be:
There are a number of barriers to participation. Broadly speaking these are:
Hull City Council has a number of formal processes for seeking the Participation and consultation of children and young people. Staff, carers, managers and others who come into contact with children are encouraged and enabled to see each and every interaction as a potential opportunity to develop trust and confidence such that children and young people feel able to confide and state their views and preferences in matters that affect them.
The most important means of encouraging and enabling participation by looked after children and young people in decisions that affect them and their lives remains the relationship with their Social Worker and other significant professionals and adults in their lives.
Enabling children and young people who have not previously had opportunities to express their views is demanding and can be challenging work that requires creativity, empathy and resilience on the part of the worker. Consultations need to be planned for, reflected on and, if necessary, returned to in order that children and young people are given every opportunity to express their views.
In order for them to express views about matters that affect them it is also vital that children and young people are in possession of information and have experiences that enable them to make informed choices.
If participation is not possible or is restricted for whatever reason, steps should be taken to ensure those affected are informed of decisions as soon as practicable after they are made, and an explanation for the decision given, together with the opportunity to make a comment and express their views.
If it is then felt that a different decision may have been appropriate, steps should be taken to reconsider the decision.
If decisions are made against people's wishes, they should be informed of the decision and the reasons for the decision should be explained. In these circumstances, the person should be informed of any rights they have to formally challenge the decision, and of the availability of the Complaints Procedure (see Representation and Complaints Procedure).
Sometimes children and young people express their preferences through their behaviour rather than through words i.e. by running away or by having tantrums. It is important to attempt to see beyond the behaviour and to try to see what the child or young person is trying to express. (Note: that where children have returned home from having run away, the 'return' interviews should be conducted by an independent person who has been trained to undertake this).
Finally, children and young people should be made aware of the systems and processes available to them if they wish to raise concerns or complain and what, if any, other forms of redress may be available to them if things go wrong.
Managers must ensure that social workers and/or staff have the time and resources available to them to ensure the effective participation of children and young people.
Only valid for 48hrs