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CHILDREN'S MESSAGES TO GOVERNMENT ON WHAT MAKES A GOOD CARE SERVICE

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Children and young people receiving care services have set out 50 key messages on what makes a good service and wha...
Children and young people receiving care services have set out 50 key messages on what makes a good service and what they want, in a report launched today by the children's rights director for England.

These messages have been sent to the government as a contribution to the forthcoming green paper on looked after children, and act as the official children's input to the current review of the National Minimum Standards (NMS) for children's services.

Children and young people say that they want to be treated as individuals, to have a say, to be listened to, to have choices in decisions affecting them, and to be offered services that do what they think is important.

Other messages highlighting what is important to children include:

- Social workers should not change so often

- Complaints procedures need to work better

- Contact should be maintained even if children and young people are placed a long way from home

- Better care planning and reviews are needed

- Being expelled from school should not mean the end of their education

The report is divided into two sections. The first contains key messages from children and young people in all care services, collated from discussions on a variety of subjects, with additional messages taken from discussions specifically undertaken for this report.

The second section contains specific messages from children and young people representing each type of care service: children's homes, foster care, adoption placements, residential special schools, boarding schools, residential further education colleges or residential family centres.

Roger Morgan, children's rights director, said: 'Over the years, I have received very consistent messages from children in all settings that I believe add up to a charter of what is important to children living away from home or receiving care services. The fact that the government is carrying out two major policy developments - reviewing National Minimum Standards and writing a green paper - give the ideal opportunity to put these messages forward on behalf of children and young people. These messages deserve to be taken fully on board by those now working on the future policy and national standards, to make ensure they both reflect what children themselves say is important to them.'

Denise Platt, chair of the Commission for Social Care Inspection, said: 'Children's views on what makes a good service should be central to the government's review of National Minimum Standards. Ministers should listen closely to what they say and ensure that national standards are based on what matters most to children and young people.'

For more information on the top 50 messages and additional special messages, click here.

Notes

1. The messages in this report were collected from children and young people in three different ways:

a) The top messages are from many discussions, visits and surveys undertaken on different subjects, for other reports. Irrespective of the topic their comments were recorded for future use.

b) Discussion groups specifically on what they think the rules should say for the type of service they are living in. 211 participants from 22 homes, schools, colleges and fostering services took part. They were also met during 10 visits to their establishments and services and children from different services to were invited to four special consultation days in different parts of the country.

c) The report contains some of the top views sent by text on mobile phones by the 'BeHeard' panel. This is a panel of young people across the country that voluntarily receives a question from the CRD team on their mobile phones each week. They text back or e-mail their views when they have something they want taken into account in reports.

2. The children and young people consulted with are those living away from home in England;

a) children's homes, boarding schools, residential special schools, residential further education colleges, foster care, adoption placements, or residential family centres;

b) those who are getting help of any sort from the children's social care services of their local council,

c) care leavers.

3. The report is being sent to government ministers, key people in parliament, officials at the Department for Education and Skills, to key people in the Commission for Social Care Inspection, to each of the UK children's commissioners, and to all children's social care authorities in England.

4. The children's rights director for England, Roger Morgan, is based within CSCI. He has a statutory role to ascertain the views of children in services the commission inspects, about issues concerning their welfare.

5. The CSCI is the single inspectorate for social care in England, responsible for regulating and inspecting all social care providers - whether in the public or independent sector, and for assessing the performance of local councils in delivering their personal social services functions.

6. The commission's primary aim is to improve social care by putting the needs of people who use care services first.

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