York is able to demonstrate many examples of high quality involvement work over recent years. This page includes summaries of some key aspects of our work to hear and respond to the voice of children, young people and families in York. The case studies represent the work of a wide range of partners from across the YorOK Workforce and all are underpinned by the YorOK Involvement Strategy.
The 2015 Review of Voice provides a summary of work over 2014/15 in relation to children and young people’s voice and involvement.
The Show Me That I Matter panel have developed ten top tips for practitioners to communicate with children and young people. You can download these from this page as well in a handy little sheet that you can print out and learn off by heart.
In September 2014 the first ever annual review of advocacy provision for children and young people was published. This review explored the usage and experience of young people taking part in advocacy between April 2013 and March 2014 and informed the development of the new advocacy offer described above. You can download a copy of the 2013-2014 Advocacy report from this website. Findings from the report informed the development of an enhanced advocacy offer for more children and young people.
CAFCASS worked with the Family Justice Young People's Board to develop and deliver training in 2014 on children meeting judges. The aim of children meeting with judges is to try and ensure that:
Speak up and hear my voice is a training course designed with young people in care about being in care.
It aims to help adults understand the needs and experiences of children and young people in care and the importance of listening and acting on their wishes and feelings. It is an excellent opportunity for staff and councillors to learn from young people themselves whilst developing their skills and knowledge to actively promote children’s rights and participation.
It is not about tokenism and just ‘listening’, it is about thinking, experiencing and changing practice at all levels of the local authority.
The Youth Commission enables young people to become a part of the solution, rather than being seen as part of the problem. The Youth Commission is a project to allow Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to work in partnership with young people to tackle urgent priorities.
Students from the University of York have supported the consultation process for the development of a new Children and Young People's Plan. The consultation lead by the students compliments a range of other consultation work which ensure the plan reflects the views of children young people and families.
Five young people including to Looked After Children and a care leaver formed an interview panel to support the recent recruitment of the new Director of Children’s Services.
This well established group has worked for a number of years to provide a platform for Looked After Children to have a voice directly with workers, senior managers and strategic leaders. So that this work can be demonstrated and understood by a wider audience an annual report is currently being produced. This report brings together the themes and messages from young people and responses from practitioners.
The Government states that every council should make a set of promises to all its children and young people in care; this is called a Pledge. In York, children and young people were asked what they thought were the kind of promises that should be made to children and young people in care, and the Pledge is based on the feedback from these children and young people. This pledge has been reviewed with young people throughout 2013.
The first ever “Speak Up” event was held on the 14th June 2014 at Energise sports centre. The event was a mix of consultation and activities with Looked After Children. The format of the day was young people arrived, signed up for a free fun activity (dancing, climbing, football etc) and before the activity began they were engaged and consulted on a range of issues.
The Springboard Music and Video Production Project is funded by Springboard in association with Inspired Youth and partners City of York Council, York St John University and Access to Music.
The project provides young people with real experiences of care / leaving care, to come together to in a professional environment to create a song and video with inspirational artists to share their voices with the world.
In 2012 the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) set up a review and task group to look at Community Mental Health Services in Care of Adolescents. The aim being to raise awareness of emotional and mental health issues for young people, and the services and interventions available, with a view to ensuring that the wider children’s workforce are well informed and equipped to identify and respond to children and young people with emotional problems and/or emerging mental health issues.
Through research with young people and other partners a set of resources have been developed alongside recommendations for further work.
Every Local Authority has a statutory duty to facilitate contact between Looked after Children and their parents. As part of new arrangements within Children’s Social Care, The Looked After Children Support Service was established in December 2012. The Looked After Children Support Service team work with children and families identified through the court or statutory review that are in need of, assessment, life story work, contact, support and guidance for all Looked After Children and those post adoption. The Looked After Children’s Support Service recognise the need to remain child focussed with the provision of positive contact and services, yet have the ability to offer flexibility in plans and services amid competing needs and evolving expectations both locally and nationally.
The LAC Support Team see involvement as fundamental to their work and they consult directly with children and young people and all partner agencies, including the IRO’s, CAMHS, Adoption and Fostering teams and Foster carers directly. All of which serves to ensure the LAC Support Team are targeting services where they are most needed and to increase the quality of that provision for all involved.
The Arts4Care project - which has been funded by Your Consortium Ltd – has worked with young people aged between 12 – 16 in partnership with Inspired Youth and the Looked After Children Support Team to build a picture of their experiences of being in care. Working alongside Artists Gemma Gilleard aka GX2 and Joy Gilleard aka Cbloxx the young people designed and painted a series of positive art murals in Hamilton House to transform the space, they wrote poetry with a lyricist before going on to create a film based on their own real life experiences.
The Stand Up for Us survey has been running since 2011 and aims to monitor the prevalence and nature of bullying behaviour in primary and secondary schools in the City of York. In 2013, the survey was developed further to explore in more detail, aspects of physical health and emotional wellbeing. In 2013, 1,559 Year 8 and 2,540 Year 4,5 and 6 pupils completed the surveys. Overall, responses from both primary and secondary school pupils indicated a decrease in experiencing bullying.
In November 34 children and young people took on some of the most important jobs in the city as part of the national ‘Takeover’ campaign. Children and young people in care, and those who have recently left care, were able to experience a role of their choice within the council and partners.
In 2013 a city wide get together of music workshops for deaf children led to a new lunch club being set up based on feedback from children and young people.
The "Listen to Me" series of booklets was developed to support adults: parents, carers and professionals who are working with children and young people to:
listen to children and young people
help children and young people to say what they want
help children and young people to make decisions
The resources include practical and innovative examples of how children can express their views. Their opinions are really important and have definitely shaped priorities for services in the City of York. Clearly some children and young people require more support to be involved and we know that parents and practitioners are eager to help them do this.
York’s Guarantee to looked after children and young people was launched at the 2014 No Wrong Door conference. The Guarantee, which was developed in partnership with young people, sets out what they can expect from the council.
The eight point Guarantee states that children and young people can expect a good quality placement where they can feel comfortable around the people they are with. It also says they will be treated with respect by social workers and best efforts will be made for them to keep exisiting relationships if they wish.
Cllr Janet Looker, Cabinet Member for Education, Children and Young People, said: “It is important that young people know that they will be treated with the utmost care and respect whilst being looked after by the council or a foster carer in the city. The guarantee aims to reflect not only what is important to the children and young people themselves, but also what should be important for us as parents.”
At the 2014 No Wrong Door conference delegates were asked to make their own personal guarantees to children and young people in care. You can see a selection of those commitments and add your own on the YorOK website.
Linked to the LAC Support Service this group was set up for young people in care in July 2013. The initial aim was to provide a forum for young people in care to contribute their own ideas and experiences of contact with their families whilst they are in care. Looking at the venue, transport, how the contact is carried out and how they can work with their contact worker both in and out of contact. This feedback was to provide information to the newly established LAC Support Team that would help shape the service in two ways. The first being the physical make up of the new building, including colour schemes, room lay out and what activities and toys were available to use in contact sessions. The second was to look at our practise as we moved into the new venue, looking at what work we do with looked after children, how we get them to contacts, how we manage those contacts and what additional work should be happening with them that they feel would benefit. After this initial aim the group has a long term aim to develop into a forum for looked after children. It merged with existing I Matter 2 group in November 2013 in order to establish this forum and avoid duplication.
The Youth Offending Team is the first team in the council to begin making use of the Viewpoint system to gather feedback from children and young people. Viewpoint is a consultation tool that makes use of graphics, speech, interactivity, short games and animated assistants to engage children and young people.
The initial focus of making use of Viewpoint has been to move existing paper based consultations online. The “What do you think” self assessment is a national set of questions that asks users how much they feel statements relate to them and the way they act. For example:
Workers support young people to complete the consultations online in their homes or in the office.
The responses to these questions are then used to inform individual plans for those young people. Quarterly reports aggregate results to identify themes to inform service delivery and strategic planning.
Viewpoint is planned to be used when looked after children or those subject to child protection plans undertake reviews. They are currently supported by an Independent Reviewing Office (IRO) who would explore with them their views and feelings ahead of a review. The Viewpoint system will provide another key tool to the support that can offered by an IRO during the review process.
Foster carers are invited to a coffee morning once a quarter with the relevant assistant director in children’s services. This is to provide an opportunity to gather feedback that can drive change in practice and policy.
The CYC PEP guidance (All About Personal Education Plans) emphasises that schools should encourage pupil contribution / participation in the PEP. The PEP guidance and PEP forms were updated Spring 2013 and shared with all CYC schools, early years settings and social workers. For the future PEP forms / procedures / guidance need to be reviewed to reflect the new Education Health Care Plans, which replace statements of SEN from September 2014.
Currently PEPs are very focussed on individual experience but options over how themes from PEPs could be aggregated and understood could be explored.
Termly training on PEP’s is provided jointly for schools, social workers and foster carers to promote a shared understanding of the need for PEP’s, what a PEP is, their respective roles and how they can work together to compete a PEP. The importance of pupil participation / contribution to the PEP is covered in the training. Trainers provide an insight into LAC views on their education and PEP’s (e.g. What helps? What doesn’t help ?). These views are taken from small local studies and national studies, which have been completed over the last 10 years. Although numbers attending each training session is relatively small, evaluations of the training are consistently high.
“Our opinions should be thought about too.” (Young person, Future Links Project, The Children’s Society).
The advisory group is a group of disabled young people who will share their opinions and views and hopefully make changes in their community. The group wants their voices to be heard and want other organisations to email questions to the advisory group asking for their views.
The group talk about: direct debits, housing, transport, hospital care for disabled young people.
The advisory group is be made up of 8 young people from the Future Links project. They are aged between 15 and 19 year old.
Refugee Action York recently made changes to their work as a result of feedback from young people. They had successfully secured funding for a five year project linked to Turkish dancing based on requests from families. When engagement with the dance sessions began to drop away Refugee Action York engaged with young people to understand why. The young people said they would like to undertake more drama based sessions. As a result of this feedback Refugee Action York began working with York Theatre Royal to run a number of drama workshops with children and young people. Attendance at the sessions have grown and feedback from the young people has been very positive.