The Guardian wants to find out what it’s like for children in care when they change placement so it can be made better for them.
When we asked 20 children individually about their experiences, six themes emerged . To check if we were on the right track, some young people from CREATE came around to tell us what they thought about each of these themes.
This is what we heard…
1. We want to hear the stories and experiences told by other children
It helps children and young people to not feel alone and to know that other children and young people may have experienced the same.
2. Some moves are easier than others
The really difficult moves are when a sibling gets left behind or are moving. Also, saying goodbye to someone special such as a carer or another child in the home, can make the move hard even if the move itself is well managed. Adults should work extra hard on preparing for the move when there are important people to farewell.
3. Our views about where we are going to live and how the move occurs are important
A lot of change for a child in care is unfair and children often don’t receive enough information about decisions that are being made. Sometimes a move has to happen but children are not kept informed nor given the opportunity to participate in the decisions. Also, when a young person is offered a choice they have to talk through the consequences of that choice, which is a good thing.
4. We struggle to trust adults when change is not well managed
Children and young people know they have little choice and control over what happens in their lives. Talking this through though means that they can say what they feel, rather than getting it out in bad ways.
5. We need to be prepared
Children need to be consulted and to understand the reason for the move. When there is a crisis, adults are less likely to talk with children and young people.
6. We need support from key people
A child’s social worker should make sure the child knows where they are moving to and to meet their new carers before the move. Children and young people need someone who understands what they are going through. They need a positive welcome from new carers, as well as children who already live there. Sometimes the welcome from other young people is more important than that of the adults, particularly in residential settings. There was a keen sense of what is unfair – children need to be treated fairly and not made to feel different. Children and young people want to be treated as part of the family.
The Guardian will put this and much more into a report about children’s experiences of moving while in care which will be released in September.
Thanks to the young people and staff at CREATE SA.
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