Children in Care Councils and Aftercare forum

Our Children’s Services met with young people in care to speak with each other openly about the care system and what can be done to make the journey through care easier by both sides.

The Junior Children in Care Council began the meeting by making snakes and ladders boards with the good things that can happen in care such as a new bedroom (ladders) and the bad things such as losing friends (snakes).

The Children in Care Council had a discussion with nurses who look after children in care about their role. Some of the jobs they carry out are checking the height and weight and looking after the children following a trip to the doctors or hospital. Another point of the meeting was to discuss tips for looking after the children. One topic was sleeping at night and some of the suggestions ranged from lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet while others were more practical such as no phone or TV at night.

It was also suggested that there could be guides for young people explaining the care system and including why they ended up in care. There could also be guides for the different care/ foster homes so that the young people, and social workers, knew the rules to the house.

The young people had the opportunity to talk to a foster carer and a residential worker to ask them some questions about their roles within children’s homes. The discussion featured questions such as “who gets the biggest rooms?” and “are there fights in children’s homes?” The new pocket money policy was also mentioned and the young people voiced their queries about issues such as ISA’s and minimum allowances.

The young people also had a talk about the use of language within the care system. It was agreed between them that they didn’t mind terms such as ‘siblings’ within foster homes, and there was a discussion on the term ‘foster carer’, but they all agreed that they didn’t like the term ‘looked after children (LAC)’.

Cathy Rooney (Acting Corporate Director of Children’s Services) and Anna Lomas (Strategic Lead for Children in Care) also spoke to the Aftercare Forum about the newest Ofsted inspection and what could be done from the young people’s view to make things better. The suggestions were ranged from issues with confidentiality to queries about life skills such as cooking lessons.

Some of the things that were taken from this meeting were that services for children should be more informal, mental health training should be issued to care workers, confidentiality and money are big issues, and the young people want more regular contact with their social workers and personal advisors.