Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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Children in care give their Messages for Munro
Today the Children’s Rights Director, Dr Roger Morgan, publishes the Messages for Munro report which finds that children in care feel social workers must do more to listen and consider their views.
The Messages for Munro report sets out the evidence collated from consultations with 179 children and young people in care and care leavers which fed into the Munro Review of Child Protection.
Only 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 the care decisions made about them. Yet the law states that children should be able to voice their views when major decisions are made about their lives and have them properly taken into account. As one child explains: ‘I kind of wonder what happens when we tell them things’.
Government regulations state that social workers visiting children they are responsible for should see them alone unless there is a very good reason not to. However, less than half of children who responded (42%) said their social workers would see them on their own and 15% said they never talked to their workers on their own. Children have said that it was important that they were able to see their social workers without carers or other people listening, so that they can openly discuss anything that is worrying them, even if it is about their carers.
Children’s Rights Director, Dr Roger Morgan said:
“This report clearly reveals some worrying concerns about the lack of influence children in care have over their lives when major care decisions are made and how ill-informed they are about what is happening to them.
“The building of trust and ensuring children are able to confide in their support workers are key to helping to protect children.
“Social workers must do more to listen and take account of children’s views, which Professor Eileen Munro has championed as a key area in improving child protection.”
How often they see their social workers and how easy it is to contact them can make a real difference to the support children receive. Of those who responded, 70% wanted to see their social workers more often than they did, with 32% saying it was not easy to get in touch with workers and 45% saying they were not usually or were never able to get in touch with them. The ease of contact and frequency of social workers’ visits are important because it can help children talk about initial problems before they escalate into major concerns. As one child explains: ‘You need someone that is there when you need them’.
To help children talk openly, those consulted said that workers should take them to places that children are comfortable in. The three best places voted by children to meet with social workers or caseworkers alone were in the place they lived (68%), in a café or restaurant (65%) and going out for a walk (26%). The least good places were in the street (15%) and at school (18%).
Notes for Editors
1. When the Government asked Professor Eileen Munro to carry out a Review of the child protection system, the Children’s Rights Director and his team consulted children and young people in care and care leavers about their experiences and views on the questions Professor Munro was looking into. Professor Munro wanted children’s views to be a central part of her review and evidence collated from this report was fed into the Munro Review.
Altogether 179 children in care and care leavers took part in the consultations for the Munro Review.
The Office of the Children’s Rights Director is also publishing a Young People’s Guide to the Munro Review report.
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.