Involving children and young people in their care
The Children Act says that children and young people must be treated with respect and this means (amongst other things) that they must be listened to. Children's services must tell the child or young person what is happening and why. In Wiltshire, children and young people working with children's services are invited and encouraged to be involved in the plans that are made for them, to give feedback on the support they get, and to have a voice in services that work for them.
They can do this in several ways.
Often, it can be difficult for young people to say what they really think to adults. Advocates are specially trained people whose job it is to help children and young people say what they really think and feel when important decisions are going to be made. Advocates can help young people to prepare for meetings or reviews. They can support children and young people to speak, or they can speak on their behalf. They can help to explain children's rights and support young people working with children's services who want to make a complaint.
In Wiltshire, those aged 7 or over will be offered the chance to meet with an advocate at different times, and can ask for an advocate at any time, if they
- Need to make their views heard at a Child Protection Conference
- Are living in care, including private foster care
- Are a care leaver
- Have a disability and are accessing overnight short breaks in Wiltshire
"I found that having an advocate gave me the confidence to speak out and say what I think."
The Wiltshire children's advocacy service is delivered by The Advocacy People.
Contact The Advocacy People if you think they can help you, or if you think the service can help a young person you know. But make sure you have the young person's consent to contact on their behalf.
The Children in Care Council (CiCC) is for children and young people living in care (11+) or who are care leavers. CiCC's job is to meet with the corporate parents (senior managers and elected members of the council) who are responsible for making important decisions about the lives of children in living in care in Wiltshire. CiCC makes them aware of issues, is consulted about possible changes, and suggests ideas and solutions.
"It's about making a change and hearing from the children and young people who are in Wiltshire's care"
CiCC has also produced a useful guide for children and young people living in care called the File of Facts.
Importantly, CiCC also challenges the corporate parents to keep their Promise to children living in care. The Promise was written by young people to explain what is important to them. The Corporate Parenting Panel, which monitors and oversees the welfare and wellbeing of children and young people who live in care, signed a revised copy of the Promise in November 2017.
Children and young people working with children's services can use an app called Mind of my own: For young people. Mind of my own is a chance to send good news, an opinion, or a complaint to a worker. Social workers and foster carers can help children and young people to access the service, which can be used at any time of the day, but is not for emergencies.
There are two versions of the app called Mind of my own One and Mind of my own Express. Mind of my own One gives young people the chance to offer their views on whatever they want, whenever they want. Comments can be sent to the workers of their choice, including to an advocate.
When children are younger or have complex needs, a worker can help them to use Mind of my own Express which helps them to express their likes, dislikes and views on lots of different things.
Are you being treated fairly? Are you being heard? Do you know how to complain?
Wiltshire Council has made a set of commitments to children and young people living in care. These are the things that young people have told us are important to them and which we aspire to provide.
Our Corporate Parenting Panel, which monitors and oversees the welfare and wellbeing of children and young people who live in care, signed a revised copy of the Promise in November 2017.
I found that having an advocate gave me the confidence to speak out and say what I think
It's about making a change and hearing from the children and young people who are in Wiltshire's care
- Children in Care Council (CiCC)