In a recent ‘social life blog’ piece from The Guardian, Rod Kippen provided some great insights following a series of talks between social work students and young people in care.
Rod is an advocate for young people in care and part of his work includes supporting young people to speak with social work students at local universities.
“I know from experience that spending 20 minutes listening to young people in care is worth days of training. Their insight and views are vital to professionals’ understanding their lived experience.”
During these meetings, young people are always asked what advice they would give social work students. Although social work students are the example used, the advice provided can apply to almost any professional supporting children in care. Foster carers and other professionals will surely relate to many of these points, and they can serve as a reminder that we are all working on the same side to deliver the best outcomes for young people.
Young people, foster carers, social workers and other professionals need to be united in tackling the challenges they face. Cuts and complications in childrens services are well-documented, but what is less publicized are the good aspects of care provided. Where is the solution-focused thinking instead of always pointing out what’s wrong?
In these talks Rod tried to move on from the image of young people as victims, to see them more as ‘activists for positive change’. Instead of always looking at what’s wrong or difficult about being in care, young people were asked what was good and what could be better. Here is their advice for social workers;
Capturing 'the voice of the child' is a crucial part of best practice. Young people's feedback is what shapes a service committed to delivering their best outcomes and significantly improving lives. Another example of this was a recent incident of a young man in care googling the term 'respite' after being told "his foster carers needed respite". Low and behold, here is the definition below;
Through years of use in social care this term's significance has been dulled down, but there's no hiding from that definition. Family Care don't want to use this term any more and we're thinking of alternatives. If you'd like to vote on some of our suggestions you can do so below.
Poll closes on Friday 4th October
Let's make sure young people's voices are always heard.
Healing Pasts | Building Futures