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Children on their Rights in Care Dr Roger Morgan OBE Children’s Rights Director for England Independent Children’s Homes Association Conference 2010, Worcester.

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Presentation on theme: "Children on their Rights in Care Dr Roger Morgan OBE Children’s Rights Director for England Independent Children’s Homes Association Conference 2010, Worcester."— Presentation transcript:

1 Children on their Rights in Care Dr Roger Morgan OBE Children’s Rights Director for England Independent Children’s Homes Association Conference 2010, Worcester

2 The Children’s Rights Director: (commercial slide!)  Independent post with statutory personal functions  Including consulting children without third party permissions  Hosted by Ofsted (previously DH, then NCSC, then CSCI)  Children and young people in care, or receiving social care support, or in residential education, or family centres, or care leavers, regarding their rights and welfare  (Not the Children’s Commissioner!)  ‘Ascertaining’ children’s views  Advising on rights and welfare  Raising issues I consider significant  Input to Ofsted and to Government

3 A ‘Right’ is something you should always be able to do, to have, to know, to say or to be protected from

4 Sources of Children’s Rights in the UK  UN Convention on the Rights of the Child  Human Rights Act  UK Primary Legislation on children  UK Secondary Legislation – Regulations  Statutory Guidance  National Minimum Standards (where applicable)  Legal case law  Children’s Rights Director statutory advice

5 Different approaches to rights  Protective  Pragmatic  Libertarian

6 THE NINE BASIC RIGHTS FROM CHILDREN’S RIGHTS CONSULTATION 2010  The right to be safe from harm  The right to well-being  The right to be alive and well  The right to learning and education  The right to enjoy life  The right to be oneself  The right of all people to be treated equally and fairly  The right to socialise with other people  The right to have a say in one’s own life

7 CHILDREN’S TOP TEN RIGHTS  To be protected from abuse  To have an education  To be helped to keep alive and well  Not to be discriminated against because of my race, colour, sex, language, disability, language or beliefs  Not to be treated or punished in a way that is cruel or meant to make me feel bad about myself  Special help for any child with a disability  To have privacy  Not to be bullied  To keep in touch with my parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters if I want to and they want to, wherever we all live  To have my private letters, phone calls, s & messages kept confidential

8 CHILDREN’S TOP TEN RESPONSIBILITIES  Responsibility for your own behaviour and actions  Making use of your education  Showing respect to others  Responsibility for your own safety  Looking after others  Looking after yourself  Your own health and hygiene  Carrying out your responsibilities around the house  Looking after the environment  Giving your opinion

9 Service rights in the UK It shall be the duty of a local authority looking after any child (a) to safeguard and promote his welfare; and (b) to make such use of services available for children cared for by their own parents as appears to the authority reasonable in his case. The duty of a local authority under subsection (3)(a) to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child looked after by them includes in particular a duty to promote the child’s educational achievement. Children Act 1989 Section 22(3)

10 The consultation right in the UK UK Children Act 1989 – ascertain and give due consideration to the [individual] child’s wishes and FEELINGS, subject to [age] and understanding

11 Decisionmaking – the individual’s rights in context In day to day decisionmaking, staff demonstrate an appropriate balance between: Each child’s wishes and preferences The needs of individual children The needs of the group of children resident at the time The protection of others (including the public) from harm National Minimum Standards for Children’s Homes

12 The carer’s default duty A person who does not have parental responsibility for a particular child; but has care of the child, may (subject to the provisions of this Act) do what is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the child’s welfare. Children Act 1989, Section 3(5)

13 Children on children’s homes  Best things are the staff, activities and making new friends  Worst things are missing your family, rules and living with people you don’t get on with  A good children’s home is spacious, in good repair, homely, has individual rooms and has plenty to do  It is near to local activities and shops and not in a bad area  Good children’s home staff are kind, caring, listen, help with problems, are happy, not moody and are easy to get on with  Biggest danger is bullying and other young people  Main factor keeping children safe from danger and bullying is the staff  Main factor helping with education is the staff, then incentives  Main factor in staying healthy is diet, then exercise  Main preparations for the future are learning practical skills and support from staff

14 Children on secure children’s homes  A safe place – out of trouble, safe from bullying inside, safe from people outside who would harm you  ‘Welfare’ and ‘criminal’ divide  Loss of freedom, away from family and friends, boredom  Staff are key  Having your own room  Rooms and spaces too small, ventilation a problem  Food, activities, ability to socialise all important  Education seen as either good or bad  Protected from bullying, but affected by others ‘kicking off’  Miss smoking and usual teenage activities  Fear of returning to trouble on leaving

15 Core points … Please don’t always believe an adult over a child Always take what a child says as seriously as what an adult says Please don’t make a looked after child ‘stand out’ A child has a right to have what they are entitled to

16 Policy rights sought by children (1)  Treat me as an individual, not one of a group  Don’t apply targets when deciding for individuals  Let me get to know a placement before I move in – don’t place me with strangers  Keep giving me information  Have an agreement about touching or being alone with a child  Check for risky times and places for bullying or dangers  Give us a choice of staff member to go to for help or advice  Keep asking us about our views and concerns  Keep me informed  Make sure I know what I am entitled to and what I’m not

17 Policy rights sought by children (2)  Only restrain me to stop me injuring myself or someone else or seriously damaging property  Don’t restrain me as a punishment or to make me do what I am told  Don’t hurt me when you restrain me  Know how to calm me down when I kick off  Only give people information about me if they really need to know  Make sure I can talk to someone independent when I have run away  If I run away, check whether I ran just to have fun, or to go somewhere I want to be, or to get away from something here

18 Care and prejudice … Being from care makes others treat you differently – sometimes better, sometimes worse Main sources of difference are that you live away from family and have had different life experiences Public sees children from care, and especially from children’s homes, negatively 45% of children in care worry about others knowing they are from care Being from care is a trigger for being bullied Later, being from care can make getting accommodation or employment difficult

19 Siblings … 81% of those with at least one brother or sister also in care had been separated from at least one brother or sister Separation of siblings more likely for those in children’s homes than those in foster care Children request visits, phone contact, contact, and photos

20 Grading contribution to decisions The Decision Score … 1. You’ve no preference – I decide 2. I decide – but I know what you want me to say 3. I can say no to what you want, and that will stop you 4. If I want to stop you, I’ve got to argue my reasons with you 5. I can object and you will take some notice of that 6. You’ll only listen if I can convince you to change your mind 7. I can object, but I don’t think that will make any difference 8. You’ll decide your way unless something serious happens 9. You’ve already decided whatever anyone else says 10. There is no decision – it is the same policy for everyone I do not know how this gets decided - or who decides

21 Assessing understanding for decisions Once it’s fully explained – does the young person understand:  The question?  The reasons behind it?  What the alternatives are?  What will happen if they decide one way or the other?  Can they weigh things up for themselves?  Can they say what they want for themselves?  Can they keep the same view, not keep changing it?

22 Findings from Children’s Care Monitor 2009  50% of children are usually or always asked their opinions about things that matter to them  48% say their opinions, when asked, usually or always make a difference to decisions about their lives  69% say adults usually or always tell them when changes are going to happen in their lives

23 Care planning (from 2009 Monitor)  73% stated they had a care plan  76% of those knew what was in their care plan  65% of them had a say in what is in their care plan  68% of them agreed with their care plan  82% of them said their care plan was being fully kept to

24 Children on placement  Can there be a choice of placement, and a backup if I don’t settle in the first one?  54% considered their last school change because of placement change turned out to be in their best interests  68% of placement changes were in the child’s best interests  81% say they are currently in the right placement

25 PLANNING, PLACEMENT & REVIEW REGULATIONS – issues children raised  Avoid moving schools in years 10 or 11  Placements not to end other than through a review (other than emergency)  Placements usually near home  Placements usually with brothers and sisters  Questions or Standards for independent accommodation  Social worker visits in first week, 6 weekly for first year, then 3 monthly [NB children’s view is monthly]  Seeing their social worker alone  More powerful Independent Reviewing Officers  Overnight stays

26 And a final message from a care leaver … “I want to be free of my past, better than my present, and always ambitious for my future. The only thing that can help me get there is funding and my own will power”


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