The agency held a Young Persons Group on the 20th of February 2015. The purpose of the group was to see how we can further integrate our looked after children in our decision making, and see how we can empower them to have a voice at the agency. The children chose the name ‘Decision Makers’ for the group.
We began by discussing the important decisions that are made about our lives. We used a thermometer to assess how involved the children are in decision making. Some felt that they had little or no involvement in school, or the planning of their placement. Some of the children felt grateful for what they had and felt very involved in the important decisions made in their lives.
We discussed ways which we could update the agency children’s guide. One young person suggested that the guide provide more information about one child’s journey into care.
We had a discussion surrounding what makes a good social worker. The most important thing the children felt a social worker needed was to be experienced, know what they are doing and listen to what they say. Some of the young people felt that their lives were being intruded on by social workers and felt that there was a lack of privacy in their home. This was explored, as they understood that the role of the social worker is to ensure that the children are safe and happy in their placement, which can seem like an intrusion or invasion of privacy.
We then did some role play, with one young person being the social worker, and the other the interviewer. All the children engaged really well with this exercise, asking valid questions like ‘what experience do you have’, and ‘why do you feel you would make a good social worker?’.
After this exercise, we explored the possibility of the Decision Makers getting involved in interviewing new social workers, which they thought they would like to do.
We ended our group with a fun game of ‘build the tallest tower’ (out of newspaper). All the Decision Makers engaged well with the game, with both teams winning (to their disappointment)!
The group proved successful with the Decision Makers making a valuable and valid contribution as to what the children in our care feel about decision making and participation in the agency.
Student Social Worker