News from Child, Youth and Family - January 2013
Giving children a voice
“My name is Joanna and I am important.”
This is the reply that came from a young girl in care when asked what she would like to say to her social worker.
It might have been phrased in different ways, but this is what all the children and young people in care said when asked what they need from their social workers and Child, Youth and Family’s service...
- “When the social worker listened to me I felt important and valued.”
- “I don’t want to be kept in the dark. Tell me what was decided about me.”
Forums have been held around the country to give children and young people in care a voice. “By listening to and involving young people in decision making, we’re able to get better outcomes for them,” said Emma Craigie, principal advisor for Child, Youth and Family’s chief social worker’s office.
Capturing the voices of children and young people is one of the five priorities of Child, Youth and Family’s strategic plan. In the three years from 2012-2015 we will:
- Ensure children’s participation and feelings shine through in all our interactions in planning
- Involve children and young people in service enhancements at a national and local level
- Ensure the participation and influence of children and young people shape the knowledge and skills of our workforce
- Uphold and protect children’s rights by establishing an effective complaints and feedback system.
“It’s our job to give children and young people a voice,” Emma said. Providing a child-friendly, safe environment was important, so forums were combined with activities like sport, cooking, and jewellery-making.
Feedback from children is already being put to good use. Quotes have been shared with our recruitment people to reinforce the kind of qualities we look for in social workers, and lots has been learned about the best way to engage and involve young people in the things affecting them.
At a national level the information is being used to prompt increased involvement of children and young people in the design and development of our services. Regionally groups are thinking about how to use children’s feedback to improve services.
“Kids have this amazing gift to be really clear and straightforward and talk about how things feel for them in an uncomplicated way,” Emma said.
When asked about what Child, Youth and Family social workers need to pay attention to when working with them, children said:
- Stay in contact with my family so you can keep them up to date with what is happening to me.
- When the social worker listened to me I felt important and valued.
A good social worker is someone who:
- Has hope, food, has fun, tells stories.
- Someone who makes the time to get to know me.
- Listens, helps us out, no judging, they look after me, even when I’m angry, doesn’t judge me or my family, someone that respects me.
My social worker was great because:
- She talked to me about my strengths, worries and hopes and dreams. I think that’s helped her understand me a little more.
- My social worker listened when we said we wanted to see our family more…she got meetings together and we started seeing more of our family. Our cousins stayed over one night. That was so cool.
- My social worker is cool and organised; she treats us like her own kids, she respects us.