Voice of children in residential care and foster care not heard in planning of their care

26 June 2006 News

THE Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Barney McNeany today said children in care settings need to have a greater say in the decisions affecting their lives.

Mr McNeany made the call after his office published the results of a review into how children and young people are allowed to influence and contribute to their care once they are in residential or foster care.

“This report shows that there are many examples where children and young people were able to contribute to the planning of their care,” he said. “Unfortunately too often they do not have a say fully planning for their future, or there are barriers preventing them having a say.”

The Commissioner said that children and young people had helped carry out the review, and its findings showed there was a clear demand among professionals and young people to improve the current system.

“Children and young people, their carers and the professionals working with them told us many ways that the system, which is supposed to give a voice to those whose lives were being discussed, could be improved,” he said.

Mr McNeany said the challenge for everyone involved in care planning for children and young people was taking the ideas and turning them into reality as a way of improving care planning.

“Those whose cases were being talked about told us about forms that were incomprehensible for children, meeting professionals for the first time in care reviews who they did not know would be there, and language being used they couldn’t understand,” he said

“These are relatively simple things that can be addressed to make sure that children and young people in a care system can provide input into discussions about where, and how they will live, who they will live with and plans for their future.”

The main recommendation of the NICCY review is for the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to create a working group that has to deliver a timely review of current policy and practice.

Notes for Editors

  • Children and young people from NICCY were directly involved in carrying out the review; as were members of VOYPIC (Voice of Young People in Care), and Health and Social Services Trust staff.