Hearing the voice of the child: co-operation and communications skills with children.
Before starting the course, we always ask our students to commit to accept all the aspects of our learning agreement, as for us is vital for the development of the course. This aspects range from accepting that everyone has a valid contribution to make, which will be listened to by all to that differences of view will be treated constructively, as everybody’s opinion counts for us. We also want to encourage you to make mistakes, as they are a way in which we learn- so it’s O.K. not to know!
In order to put in practice what we learn during this course, the group will participate (and practice) in an anti- discriminatory/ anti oppressive way always, by taking responsibility to address any oppressive behaviour or language, but will do it constructively. Finally, the student must agree with remaining confidential all the personal contributions, unless they reveal dangerous or illegal practice.
The objectives of this course can be summed up in three points:
· Give the students the ability to explain why children need to be included in their social work interventions.
· Teach students how to identify their prior knowledge on communication and apply this to working with children.
· Encourage students to develop an understanding of age appropriate communication skills with children and are able to make use of specific communication skills for example in role plays.
The course will consist on making two different groups in order to promote the teamwork and the debate, so the first group will have to think about a course entitled Hearing the voice of the child will cover? While the second group will have to think about a course entitled Hearing the voice of the child should cover?
With the aim to fulfil all the objectives of this course, an agenda of five points has been set up:
· Why involve children in social work processes?
· What disadvantages might there be?
· What are the difficulties?
· What can we do?
· What do we need to know?
Apart from the discussion, an exercise will be also provided to put in practice all what have been taught during the course. This exercise will consist on working in small groups and consider the following questions: Why involve children in social work processes? Are there any disadvantages?
Why children need to be included in social work interventions?
According to Helen Whincup’s, an Scottish Executive, research known as Involving children in assessment and decision-making, before debating about this theme, we have to have in mind that the word ‘involvement’ may mean different things to different people. So that, on this basis, we are going to show what the research tell us about it:
· WHAT DOES RESEARCH TELL US?
The research says that what children and young people want, is on one hand, practitioners who are reliable, consistent, honest, and warm, and who get to know them and care about them. On the other hand, are processes in which they are included in a way, which is meaningful for them.
· Consistently reported as unhelpful
The research also expose that there are methods and situations, which can become unhelpful to achieve a good result. For example, there are systems where they feel they have no control and also practitioners who don’t listen, are constantly changing and are unreliable or unavailable. There were also situations where children and young people felt they were not fully involved or that their views had not been listened to it affected their commitment to engage and to be honest about their experiences. It may also have an ongoing impact on their wellbeing and abilities to be involved in decisions later in life – impacting on outcomes.
Messages from Munro report
Finally, we would like to invite you to think about what Professor Eileen Munro says about child protection and so, know how do you feel about it.
This report sets out evidence collated from consultations with 179 children and young people in care and care leavers, which fed into Munro’s review. Of these, only a 50% of children in care who responded felt their social worker or caseworker took notice of their wishes and feelings and over half (53%) thought their wishes and feelings did not usually or never made a difference to care decisions made about them. It also shows that law states children should voice views when major decisions are made about lives and have them taken into account. ‘I kind of wonder what happens when we tell them things’.
Munro also states that less than half of children (42%) said social workers would see them on their own and that a 15% said they never talked to their workers on their own. This is one of the reasons why it is important to meet without carers, so they can openly discuss their worries, including about carers. Following with the results, a 70% wanted to see their social workers more often than they did, a 32% said it was not easy to get in touch with workers and a 45% said they were not usually or were never able to get in touch with them, when in this cases ‘you need someone that is there when you need them’, this is the function of the social worker.