Most children and young people made very positive comments about their social workers, overall rating them eight out of 10. However, as with any group of people, there are good and bad ones. There are areas where change is necessary to ensure children receive the care they are entitled to.
The children consulted felt their social workers changed too often and did not always share information with each other. Children also felt that social workers did not always seem to listen to them, did not act quickly enough when problems arose and sometimes concentrated more on what was best for the adult looking after them. Many said that their social worker does not speak to them alone during visits.
Some of those consulted felt they should be included in the recruitment process for social workers. They also said they were not guaranteed a good social worker for their needs, even if the council had received the highest CSCI star rating.
The views of 13 groups of children and young people were collated from visits or group meetings held at consultation sessions throughout the year. In order to obtain a wider view from all age ranges, question cards were sent to over 500 children and young people from different care settings. Views were also collated from the young people's mobile phone texting panel 'BeHeard'.
Roger Morgan, children's rights director said: 'In my consultation sessions with children and young people receiving social care services, this subject area always came up, as it is a major part of young people's lives. As usual, they have been totally honest with their comments. Their views are simple - they just want help with personal problems, to be listened to and included in the decisions made about them, treated with respect and to be able to liaise with a social worker who shows empathy.'
Denise Platt, chair of CSCI said: 'Children need social workers to go the extra mile on their behalf if they are to get the help and guidance they need. Many get it right, but as these children tell us, some don't. As new services for children are created, managers and social workers should seize the opportunity and heed what children say to get it right this time.'
Barbara Herts, chief executive of Young Minds said: 'This report is excellent and should be on the reading list for all professionals working with children and young people. It's all the little things that matter- good listening, a quick response and continuity of care. If you think about it, these are all the things a good parent would do.'
BeHeard is a panel of young people across the country who have volunteered to receive a weekly question from the CRD team by text message or email.
Young Minds is a children's mental health charity and exists to improve life chances for children and young people experiencing or at risk of mental health difficulties at any point in their lives. www.youngminds.org.uk
The report is being sent to government ministers, key people in parliament each of the UK Children's Commissioners, and to all children's social care authorities in England.
The Children's Rights Director for England, Dr Roger Morgan OBE, is based within CSCI. He has a statutory role within the Commission to ascertain the views of children in services the Commission inspects about issues concerning their welfare.
The Commission itself has a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare and rights of children. The Commission for Social Care Inspection was created by the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003 as the lead inspectorate for social care in England. Its primary objective is to improve the quality of social care, putting people who use the services at the centre of this work.
The Commission is responsible for the regulation of children's homes and residential family centres across England. In line with the regulations and national minimum standards, the Commission will aim to assess the extent to which services secure positive welfare, health and education outcomes for children and young people, and reduce risks to their welfare and safety.
The Commission began operation on 1 April 2004, replacing the Social Services Inspectorate (SSI), the SSI/Audit Commission Joint Review Team and the National Care Standards Commission (NCSC).