Listening to the children: Local Government Chronicle

Posted on September 6, 2008 · Posted in Local Government Chronicle

 

Children in care

Children in care are now more likely to be listened to by local authorities, but more needs to be done to make more children in care feel safe, according to the first Children’s Care Monitor report. While children are able for the first time to report regularly on their experiences, too many – particularly those with disabilities – are bullied.

 

“Overall, the children’s report was encouraging,” says Dr Roger Morgan, the Children’s Rights Director for England, whose office published it. “But there is still too much variation in what individual children get. The majority are saying they are getting a good service. But we have to be just as concerned that a minority are reporting they are not.”

 

More than half of children in care said their opinions were asked about things that matter to them. Those who live in boarding schools, further education colleges or living at home with council support were least likely to be asked their opinions. Some 88% of the children said the quality of their care was good or very good. But those with disabilities are most likely to be bullied – 20%, compared to 9% of all children in care.

 

Dr Morgan is encouraged by the response of some local authorities to his office’s research. He wants councils to use the same questions his team have asked children, to assess the responsiveness of local services and benchmark their performance against national averages. Some authorities have begun doing this, using information obtained for the Care Monitor report.

 

Andrew Cozens, Strategic Adviser for Children, Adults and Health Services at the Improvement and Development Agency, said that children’s services directors had told him that the report seemed to show progress. “A headline figure of 73% [of children in care] said they felt consulted,” he said. “It should be 100%. But it sounds like an improvement.” He added: “There is still a lot of work to do to make sure that children in care get the best outcomes.” But where the report did show concerns, these related mostly to issues such as bullying where the local authority had influence rather than control, said Cozens.