CREATE Foundation have released our second Best Practice Guide – this time, on the topics of Participation. “Encouraging Participation in Out-of-Home Care” is an evidence-based guide that outlines seven principles to support young people as decision-makers in their own lives. CREATE advocates for children and young people in care to be supported in exercising their right to be meaningfully and genuinely engaged in decision-making processes. This right is enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), Article 12.1. It also is promoted through the National Standards for Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care and in each state and territory’s Charter of Rights.
“Speak their language [and] let them have a say.”
Based on concepts and issues brought forth by young people in out-of-home care at our 2019 Voices in Action Conference, this guide is designed to create a clear path forward for workers and organisations, towards better participation outcomes for children and young people.
From this Advocacy in Action workshop, there was an overriding sense that participatory experiences for young people should be positive and strengths-based, with an emphasis on supporting the “strengths and aspirations of young people” and “helping young people reach their potential” (Young Participants, ViA Conference, 2019b). All child protection workers and carers should be committed to encouraging and facilitating children and young people to participate in decisions, by adopting a child-centred approach in obtaining young people’s views.
“They never really used my words. My case plan was pretty much just what they thought was best for me.”
The Best Practice Guide outlines the following seven principles to foster child-centred participation:
- Recognise that young people’s participation in decision-making (both within and beyond the OOHC sector)is underpinned by Child-Rights culture
- Engage with children and young people and allocate time to develop meaningful, respectful, and trusted relationships
- Use strengths-based approaches to promote agency and opportunity for young people
- Create culturally safe spaces and mechanisms to encourage connection and participation
- Keep channels of communication open and use inclusive, respectful, and child-friendly language
- Invest in recruiting, training, and supporting quality staff to ensure that the right people are in the job
- Establish a working culture driven by professional integrity—be flexible, responsive, transparent, and accountable!
The Guide, along with the poster resource is available below. We encourage you to read it and use the insights of young people with a care experience to enhance your practice and create a better life for those in care.
CREATE always welcomes feedback on our resources, you can contact us on 1800 655 105 or email firstname.lastname@example.org