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Care Experienced Children Discuss Their Rights

Young people living in care are often some of the most vulnerable and marginalised in society, many face huge levels of stigma throughout every aspect of their daily lives – whilst simultaneously dealing with the reasons that led them to be in care in the first place, leaving them open to an increased risk of mental health problems. This can have a negative impact on not only their physical and emotional well-being, but their ability to function within society and form positive relationships. Young looked after people can also be at a heightened risk of exploitation. Many looked after young people have a complex range of rights needs, including the right to a family life, the right to participate meaningfully in decision making processes and the right to challenge decisions and voice complaints.

“Support should happen from the first minute that a young person arrives in care, not as an afterthought”

“Communication works, we need to bridge the gap between services and peer education”

“People need to feel as if someone cares about them and loves them”

“We need to promote inclusion”

“We need access to more inclusive services that everyone can access”

“Social workers should take a wider view”

“Looked after young people need support in maintaining friendships, especially when moving areas”

“People who know the family the least, make the biggest decisions”

“Some young people don’t want contact with their social worker”

“Communication with social workers needs to improve”

“Social workers look at guidelines instead of looking at the individual needs of a young person”

“Social workers changing and leaving when the decision was wrong is a problem”

“I need support every time, if you put a price on this I experience stigma and discrimination”

“No child chooses to be looked after away from home/mentally ill/disabled – don’t label us”

“There is no point in doing risk assessments just to stop people from doing things”

“More support in the gap between leaving care and adulthood”

“Attitudes need to change towards young people in care in order to stop discrimination”

“Don’t label young people in care”

“Social work make the decisions and we are left to deal with the consequences”.

They Recommended:

“Ensure all young people in care can easily access their right to special care and support”

“Ensure all support is equally accessible to all young people with learning difficulties and younger children”

“More work experience opportunities for young people in care”

“More resources are needed to implement and support rights education”

“More awareness raising and training in schools around the needs of young people in care”

“All staff must be trained in the UNCRC and ensure the principles are implemented into policy and practice throughout all services for young people in care”

“More supported access to information to enter further education, training and employment”

“Develop improved participation and citizenship within early years education settings”

“More supported peer education training in schools for young people and teachers”

“More access to education which is suited to individual need”

“The government must take more responsibility in tackling negative perceptions of young people in care”

“More needs to be done to tackle bullying in schools”

“Young people must have continual access to independent services and spaces in which they can learn about their rights”

“Respect for honesty and openness from people who support and care for children and young people”

“The media, television and music should be used to educate people, not reinforce negative stereotypes and be based upon real lived experiences”

“Increased awareness for the right of children and young people to know their rights in relation

to the UNCRC – to support participation in decision making”

“Setting regular goals is an important way in which young people in care can be given responsibility in order to learn to do things for themselves”

“Long-term goals should be encouraged by professionals in order to help young people in care to make a positive contribution towards their future”

“Information must be explained and documented in ways young people can understand”

“Increased rights education in mainstream and alternative education settings”

“The development of qualifications which relate to participation rights for professionals such as teachers, social workers, managers and staff in social care settings would help to enshrine the rights of looked after young people”

“More skill-based and vocational educational options”

“Ensure appropriate matching for children and young people – having looked after young people

involved in staff recruitment is crucial”

“Article 12 of the UNCRC must be respected at all times, regardless of age or behaviour”

Care should be taken with the wording of case notes; small incidents can seem exaggerated by the language used, young people expressed concern with this practice:

“would you say your own child was aggressive when they were just in a bad mood, I don’t understand why someone would write that about me”

Social work must assess the suitability of every meeting with friends outside school hours,

“this is embarrassing and means we can do nothing without first having things checked out”

The young people felt that they had to constantly prove themselves before they were allowed to do things that young people living with their families do as a natural part of life:

“I can’t even meet my friends without proving I can be trusted”