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Principles and Practice in Communicating With ChildrenCommunicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006
Communicating with children in assessmentsWhy do it? Context / background Benefits Good practice Cautions This slide explains what the rest of the presentation will be about. Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006
Who says we have to involve children?The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child The Children Act 1989, the Children Act 2004 The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need (2000) S11 Guidance (2005) Working Together to Safeguard Children (2006) Article 12 of the UNCRC: ‘State parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child’. Get a quote from the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need. Statutory guidance on making arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children under section 11 of the children act 2004 A guide to interagency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006
Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006Who says...? (cont) Every Child Matters agenda The context of consumer rights Local policy My manager My professional standards Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006
Messages from inquiriesCommunicating with children protects them Laming found evidence of no, or limited, conversations with Victoria Climbié ‘In reality, the conversations with Victoria were limited to little more than “hello, how are you?” The only ‘assessment’ completed involved the writing down of limited and sometimes contradictory information provided by Kouao’ A number of child death enquiries have indicated that if children had been listened to, the evidence about the risk would have emerged. Spending time with children, and talking to them, and making sure that you are actively listening and taking seriously what they say is an essential safeguarding activity. Laming Recommendation 26 Directors of social services must ensure that no case involving a vulnerable child is closed until the child and the child’s carer have been seen and spoken to, and a plan for the ongoing promotion and safeguarding of the child’s welfare has been agreed. (paragraph 4.183) Recommendation 35 Directors of social services must ensure that children who are the subject of allegations of deliberate harm are seen and spoken to within 24 hours of the allegation being communicated to social services. If this timescale is not met, the reason for the failure must be recorded on the case file. (paragraph 5.127) I found it hard to understand the evidence I heard from qualified social workers about what they described as a lack of clarity on how they should assess the needs of a child and its family. While the National Assessment Framework was published more recently, and welcomed, I would have expected qualified social workers at the time Victoria needed protection to be capable of completing an assessment of her needs. The Children Act 1989 had been implemented in The forms for this purpose were available and senior managers accepted that the tasks had been completed. In reality, however, the conversations with Victoria were limited to little more than “hello, how are you?”. The only ‘assessment’ completed involved the writing down of limited and sometimes contradictory information provided by Kouao. Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006
Messages from inspections‘The National Assessment Framework for Children in Need is well understood in almost all councils. The majority of assessments of children and their families are satisfactory. A significant minority do not include children and families sufficiently or incorporate all key information.’ From ‘Making Every Child Matter’ CSCI (2005) Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006
Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006But also from CSCI ‘We see some excellent assessments that: fully involve the child and their parents and take their views into account make full use of information from the range of agencies involved with the child and family and link it together effectively take account of cultural issues and influences, using the skills of specialist staff where appropriate From Making Every Child Matter – a summary of 69 children’s inspections over a 2 year period from April 2003 to March 2005 Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006
But also from CSCI (cont)assemble a holistic picture of the child in their family, that weighs the significance of information from all sources to determine the nature and extent of risk to them use that information and exercise skilled professional judgement about the issues to be addressed and needs to be met.’ Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006
Involving children worksChildren feel listened to, taken seriously, and this helps them to deal with difficult situations When children are involved in decision-making and planning, the plans are more likely to be successful Services developed with the influence of children and young people are more likely to meet their needs Second point – Ruth Sinclair (1998) ‘Involving children in planning their care’ in Child and Family Social Work. Vol 3. Third point – refers to collective participation rather than individual, but makes the point that organisations who take this seriously provide a culture where front line workers are more likely to be given time and encouragement to work with individual children. Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006
Good practice 1: Build competenceBy providing information so that children and young people can contribute meaningfully By giving time and explanations so that they can properly understand the issues and the process By being clear about what will be discussed, and the likely consequences. Be straight about the boundaries of confidentiality By giving access to independent advocacy services if required These are the basic building blocks for good communication and involvement of children and young people. Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006
Good practice 2: Practical considerationsPay attention to venues and who will be present. Children should be involved in deciding who, when and where Provide interpreters if required Think about what tools and techniques you will use. Preparation and planning Think about the use of new technologies It doesn’t have to be McDonald’s – it should be somewhere private. One young woman said that she told her social worker all the important things when she was in the car. Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006
Good practice 3: Create the right cultureChildren are more likely to talk to people they know and trust – it takes time to build trust Feedback and discuss the outcomes, what happened Follow up – do what you said you would do Be flexible in response to what children and young people say Creating trust by taking time, doing what you say you’ll do, keeping communication open. Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006
Good practice 4 : Child-led assessmentsStart with what is important to the child Go at the child’s pace – gradually build a picture of their needs Attend to positives as well as negatives Forms / tick boxes / checklists don’t always work well for children Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006
Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006Children’s responses Developmental considerations – children’s understanding at different ages, adolescents’ willingness to engage (but don’t forget individual differences) Cultural differences Adverse events affecting children’s responses Think about the different factors affecting how children will respond – developmental. Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006
Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006Cautions Sensitivity to children’s plans / schedules Don’t let children down – be reliable, honest and accountable Support carers to support the child involved Involve other trusted adults outside the family Don’t just talk – try other methods More on other methods, tools and techniques, on day two of the course. Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006
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