Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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Personal diary entries of children about care, support and life away from home

Yesterday the Children’s Rights Director, Dr Roger Morgan, publishes the 100 days in care report which documents 100 personal diary entries about children’s experience of being in care, leaving care, and living in boarding schools or residential special schools.

The report asks children and young people for their views about their experiences, their rights, their welfare, and how they are looked after. It seeks to provide a direct voice for these young people, simply containing 100 of their diary entries, describing things happening in their own lives, in their own words.

Early in 2011, children and young people were asked to volunteer and fill in a diary for a week. Twenty three children and young people agreed to do this, and the report gives their accounts, told through 100 of the diary entries.

Some of the authors of the diary entries in this report were care leavers, or living at home with social care support, others were living in children’s homes or secure units, foster care, residential special schools, or as boarders in boarding schools.

The Children’s Rights Director, Dr Roger Morgan said:

'This report gives us a clear insight into the lives of these children. As the diary entries have not been amended we can understand clearly the emotions, thoughts and concerns of the children and young people, and the children speak for themselves.

'When reading the diary entries it is clear there are some recurring themes, such as relationships between children, the experience of living in a group, the importance of staff support, food and routines. Some of those in care wrote about the impact it had on their lives and some offered advice to other children if they ever found themselves being placed in care.'

Having set routines and meal times was important to children as well as the need to have someone to talk to. Children also wrote a great deal about their day-to-day routine and some used their diary entries to share advice with other youngsters.

One 11 year old child said: 'You’re allowed to make calls to your social worker but only if it is urgent not about your foster carer not letting you buy sweets or something like that.'

She went on to say:

'You may realize when you move to somewhere where they have a young daughter or son they might not like you because they are jealous of you getting more attention or that you have entered their house. Don’t think that you are unwelcome or that they hate you.'

Another talking point for children completing the diaries at one particular care provider included experiences of looking after a dog, Cliff, which helped them develop responsible attitudes. Children at the home commonly called Cliff the ‘responsibility dog.’ The children needed to show they were reliable and owning the dog taught them about dependability, trustworthiness and as the title suggests ‘responsibility.’ One 14 year old child described the dog’s role at his school saying:

'After we unpack we have to take our responsibility dog Cliff out, so he can do his business, which teaches us to remember to do things but if we don’t remember we lose points.'

The report also included diary entries of young adults who had recently left care and included their experience of everyday life. One 20 year old care leaver in particular talked about working and coming home in the evening. She describes her experience:

'Stressful day at work… glad I’m home behind closed doors. The good thing is my neighbour is normally around on the weekend….When she is back I can hear her loud and clear… I can hear most of what she watches on TV! It’s strange to say but although she is a rather noisy neighbour, I do welcome the sound – it makes me feel like I’m not totally alone on a night.'

Notes to Editors

1. 100 days in care report can be found on the Children’s Rights Director’s website and the Ofsted website.

2. The Children’s Rights Director for England has independent statutory duties to ascertain and report the views of children living away from home or in care, to advise on children’s rights and welfare, and to raise matters he considers significant to the rights or welfare of the children in his remit.

3. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

4. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office via Ofsted's enquiry line 0300 123 1231 between 8.30am - 6.30pm Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359.

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