• Barriers children face complaining about social work practice: a study in one English local authority

      Diaz, Clive; Pert, Hayley; Hill, Lauren; Aylward, Tricia; Neill, Donna (Wiley, 2019-09-04)
      Despite the introduction of guidelines and procedures aimed at encouraging and supporting children and young people to complain about the services they receive, children in care still face barriers to doing so in practice. This paper explores what happens when children in care are dissatisfied with the services they receive. Specifically, this study examines the complaints procedure for children in care. The findings are based on semistructured interviews with children in care, social workers, senior managers, and independent reviewing officers from one English local authority. Thematic analysis of these data identified five emergent themes: (a) complaints by children in care are managed at the lowest possible level, (b) senior managers have an overly optimistic view about children in care being informed of complaint procedures and being encouraged to do so, (c) children in care are worried about complaining, which is recognized by professionals, (d) children's voices are often not heard, and (e) when issues are clearly defined, independent reviewing officers have some degree of success in resolving complaints from children in care.
    • 'Just another person in the room’: young people’s views on their participation in Child in Care Reviews

      Diaz, Clive; Pert, Hayley; Thomas, Nigel (SAGE, 2018-12-11)
      This article discusses a key meeting for children in care – the Child in Care Review – and examines the extent to which children and young people are able to participate and exert a level of control over their lives. The research, conducted in England, formed part of a wider exploration of the views and experiences of all those involved in such reviews, namely Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs), social workers, senior managers and – the focus of this article – the young people concerned. Most of the children interviewed said that they found their reviews frustrating and stressful, often attributing this to poor relationships with social workers and scepticism about the value of the review process. However, they recognised the workload pressures facing social workers and the bureaucratic constraints affecting the service they received. The article argues for the continuing importance of the IRO role, given the consistency it provides for children in care. It also shows that while it provides an opportunity for children’s participation in discussions about their future, the Child in Care Review is underperforming. The developing practice of children chairing their own reviews offers one way forward and the article calls for this to be developed and for other creative methods to be introduced to enable young people to play a meaningful part in meetings that affect them.
    • A study on senior managers’ views of participation in one local authority a case of wilful blindness?

      Diaz, Clive; Aylward, Tricia (Oxford University Press, 2019-11-16)
      Children in care are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society and senior managers should be committed towards improving their well-being. Empowerment through participation can contribute to this. This study considered the extent to which young people in care were encouraged to participate in decision making, particularly in their review meetings. The paper explores the views of seven senior managers in one local authority in this regard. It formed part of a wider study in which social workers, independent reviewing officers and young people in care were also interviewed. Findings indicate a disconnect between senior managers’ views and other participants. Senior managers were unaware of the challenges that the social workers and independent reviewing officers said they faced. Their understanding of meaningful participation appeared to be limited, their curiosity subdued and their willingness to challenge limited. Senior managers informed that care plans were not up-to-date or considered at the review and were unsure about what opportunities children had to participate and how management could support this. Senior managers reflected that little seemed to have changed in relation to children’s participation in their reviews over the last twenty-five years.