#MessagestoSocialWorkers – A film created by Care Experienced Young People

We worked with a group of young people in care who attend a project run by the Roots Foundation Wales and the South West Wales Reaching Wider Partnership – Swansea University to create this film. The film represents the key messages that young people wanted to share with social workers.

The group meets regularly and offers care experienced young people the opportunity to meet together for social events, educational opportunities and a range of activities. In January and February 2019 we worked with the group make our first collaborative film #FromYoungPeopleForYoungPeople – Find Your Tribe

In the summer of 2019, we met up again to think about what other messages were important and who should hear these messages. We started by brainstorming ideas and deciding on the main messages then got to work on scripting and creating visual elements for the film. We used story boards to try and put together the group’s ideas then experimented with drawing, stickers and fuzzy felts.

The original images made by the group were used as the basis for the film animation, bringing to life the messages the young people wanted to share with the help of Like an Egg. These messages were created by young people based on their experiences. The film represents their ideas about how they would like to work with social workers in the future. These are their #messagestosocialworkers. We hope you enjoy the film.

Dawn Mannay – School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University @dawnmannay

Rachael Vaughan – CASCADE: Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre, Cardiff University @VaughanRach

Helen Davies – South West Wales Reaching Wider Partnership – Swansea University @ReachingWiderSU

Emma Jones – Roots Foundation Wales @RootsWales

Care Leavers Toolkit

Like all young people, children and young people in or leaving care have their own needs, interests and motivations to learn.

They need access to a range of learning provisions that provide access to appropriate pathways and enables them to develop the skills they need to lead full, active and independent lives as young workers, parents and citizens.

During 2016, the Learning and Work Institute worked in partnership with Welsh Government to develop a resource for providers across the learning and skills sector, including further education institutions, work based learning providers, higher education institutions and youth, adult and community learning services – all of whom have a key role to play in enabling children and young people in or leaving care to achieve their potential.

Visit the Learning and Work Institute for Care Leavers

This resource closely follows the four key sections of the Buttle UK Quality Mark Framework, which are:

  • Raising aspirations and pre-entry outreach
  • Application, entry and induction
  • On-going support
  • Monitoring outcomes and impact

In this resource, you will find examples of good practice and reflective questions to assess current performance, in each of these areas. This will enable individual providers to set their own SMART targets for the future development of their provision and support for children and young people in or leaving care.

This resource supports the ambitions of the ‘Raising the ambitions and educational attainment of children who are looked after’ strategy and Welsh Government’s commitment to securing good outcomes for all looked after children and young people.

Visit the Care and Education blog.

The Getting More Involved in Social Care Project

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The Welsh Government has funded Children in Wales over three years to develop new resources for care experienced children and young people across Wales.

Since the beginning of the project in 2016, we have been working directly with children and young people to co-produce a series of guides on topics relating to their rights under Part 6 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. All guides are available in English and Welsh. We want more care experienced children and young people to be aware of their rights and to have more voice and control in the care and assessment planning process.

What the project has achieved

Children in Wales has worked with children and young people as well as key partners across local authorities, health boards and the voluntary sector to co-produce health and well-being guides. Our guides explore topics looking at subjects of interest to children and young people. As the project has evolved, we have explored wider themes of education, money management and family relationships. The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 and children’s rights are central to each guide. 

Guides produced

All guides are available at the Children in Wales website.

Our aim is for the guides to be as accessible as possible. Each one can be downloaded from our website and young people can access and use them independently if they wish. We do appreciate however, that for some young people in care there may be additional barriers to accessing them. It is our hope that by working with professionals who directly support them, they will have the option of using guides in practice with children and young people to ensure voice and control remains central in care and assessment planning.

Ways to get involved

  • If you work directly with children and young people you can use them in practice
  • If you have a website for care experienced young people or intranet page for professionals you may wish to share the link to our website
  • You could tweet about them and/or share amongst your networks
  • Use as training tools in staff teams or with young people
  • Tell us what you think! We’d love to have your feedback – there may also be a particular subject area you’d like a guide on in the future

As a project we can

  • Attend a team meeting to tell you more about the project, getting involved and start to share some of the guides
  • Deliver some training with young people on rights, well-being and our guides

Next steps

We acknowledge there is a still a lot of work to do. The issues for young people may change as the project evolves. We will continue to work in a way that is responsive to the needs of children and young people as well as the professionals who support them.

If you want to get involved and work together in the future, it would be great to hear from you. Please do get in touch.

Emma.Sullivan@childreninwales.org.uk 
info@childreninwales.org.uk
02920 342434
@childreninwales 
@plantyngnghymru

The Value of Cultural and Creative Engagement

Understanding the experiences and opinions of care-experienced young people and foster carers in Wales

The Wales Millennium Centre ran an arts-based programme in 2018 which was funded and supported by the Confidence in Care Consortium led by The Fostering Network in Wales. The programme was delivered between May and July and involved eight care-experienced young people and their foster families. The Wales Millennium Centre commissioned Cardiff University to conduct research with care-experienced young people and their foster carers, and facilitators involved with the delivery of the arts project. The involvement of the team at Cardiff University was related to their earlier projects with CASCADE: Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre.

The research aimed to assess the current knowledge base regarding care-experienced children’s and young people’s engagement with the arts, and to explore the views of facilitators, young people, and their carers involved in the arts-based programme at the Wales Millennium Centre.

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Objective 1: Collate and report relevant data and literature.

Objective 2: Conduct an in-depth qualitative research study with programme facilitators, care-experienced young people, and their foster families to provide insight into their experience of being involved with the arts-based programme, and their opinions on what could be done to improve the model and encourage engagement with the arts more widely.

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The project involved a range of activities such as singing, drama, games, character design and puppet-making. There was a session with puppeteers from the War Horse theatre production and everyone got to watch War Horse in the final week. Foster carers participated in some of the activities and others were only for young people. Young people also completed an Arts Award certificate in the development of their arts and leadership skills.

Although the project was aimed at young people, foster carers enjoyed taking part in the games and creative activities. They also reported a real benefit from meeting other foster carers and making new supportive networks. The young people involved all reported a wide range of benefits, including improved confidence, learning new creative skills, teamwork, patience, and making friends.

“I learned that I’m creative. I learned how to make a puppet move and how horses move and walk.” Charley

“I learned how to overcome challenges and to have fun. I learned how to be confident around others.” Amy

“We all worked together in a team. Working in a team is AMAZING!” Ebony

“I’m proud of myself not getting into conflict and I managed to make friends and my confidence has improved.” Bella

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The benefits went beyond the project and young people used what they learnt in other contexts such as drama and art classes at school. Two young people went on to join a drama group and performed in a recent play.  Foster carers talked about how the young people they care for had grown in confidence across the project, as did the facilitators who saw a real transformation in young people. The research team attended the sessions as well as interviewing all those involved, and saw the significant impact the project had on everyone involved.

The project report raised a series of 18 recommendations including;

  • Future studies on this topic should foreground participant-centred feedback from care-experienced young people, as many rely largely on adult-reported feedback. This study drew on the perspectives of foster carers, facilitators and care-experienced young people and this model should be adopted in future work to gain a more nuanced understanding and evaluation of arts-based programmes.
  • This study reported a number of benefits from attending the programme, including improved confidence, social and emotional development, and arts-based skills, which were evidenced in the accounts of young people, foster carers and facilitators. Future research should adopt a longitudinal approach to explore whether these perceived benefits are transient or have lasting impacts.
  • Future programmes should provide free to access activities for care-experienced young people and explore transitionary pathways into further activities to increase the sustainability of arts interventions.
  • Future programmes should consider the ways in which arts-based projects can access, engage and include children and young people in care who do not have the support of an ‘engaged’ foster carer.

Cardiff University is continuing to work with The Fostering Network and Wales Millennium Centre to consider further opportunities for care experienced young people to engage with the arts and culture.

References

Mannay, D., Smith, P., Jennings, S., Turney, C. and Davies, P. 2018. The value of cultural and creative engagement: Understanding the experiences and opinions of care-experienced young people and foster carers in Wales. Project Report. Cardiff: Wales Millennium Centre.

Mannay, D., Smith, P., Jennings, S., Turney, C. and Davies, P. Executive Summary: The value of cultural and creative engagement: Understanding the experiences and opinions of care-experienced young people and foster carers in Wales. Technical Report.

Raising our Children: The Future of Residential Care

Residential Care Conference
November 2018

Practitioners gathered at the ‘Raising our Children: The Future of Residential Care’ conference to discuss and listen to research on relevant issues concerning the future of residential care. 

Dr Alyson Rees (Cardiff University) welcomed participants and introduced the opening discussions. The morning sessions focused on one of two ‘Voices from Care’ recordings and presentations from Professor Sally Holland (Children’s Commissioner for Wales) and Professor David Berridge (University of Bristol).

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“Children’s rights are extremely important”

Professor Holland’s presentation ‘Policy developments in Wales since the publication of the Right Care Report’ began by commenting on the first-hand and thought-provoking accounts from the ‘Voices from Care: Living and Leaving’ recordings.  Sally Holland expressed the importance of involving children and young people more in decisions in their lives, and illustrated – from the report ‘Hidden Ambitions’,  that we must allow young people leaving care to have the right support to reach their ambitions. Additionally, she pointed out that consultation is currently in place for young people leaving care to be exempt from council tax until age 25. Sally finished by emphasising the need for safe provisions for young people who need it and also for therapeutic needs, social care needs, and for keeping vulnerable people safe.

“Young people should be able to remain in residential homes until they are ready to leave and not be moved on prematurely. Ex-residents should receive continuing support.”

‘The future of residential care’ was next presented by Professor David Berridge (University of Bristol).  David, a residential social worker with 30 years of research into children’s services, has produced several studies of residential care. During his presentation, he pointed to the stigma surrounding residential care and also the steady decline in its use internationally, in England numbers have reduced from 40K to 8K in 40 years.​

After a break, delegates separated into one of three workshops from presenters Mike Lewis (Hawliau), Brian Paget’s (Consultant), and Florence Lindsey-Walters’ (SCIE). See the resources section below to download presentations from the conference.

The afternoon sessions continued with a second ‘Voices from Care: Opportunities’ recording, and a panel discussing “Our future, our voices: care – experienced vision for residential care” with Sean O’Neill (Children in Wales) Chris Dunn (Voices from Care) and two care experienced young people. Questions posed included ‘How could transitioning from residential care to independence be improved?’, and ‘What would you like to see for the future of residential care?’. Gaining insightful perspectives from those with direct experience of the system was an invaluable part of the day, with numerous delegates keen to engage in the Q&A that followed.

“I made really good friendships”

Professor Claire Cameron’s (University College London) presentation, ‘Doing home’ in residential care’ followed, and closing the day was Lucy Treby’s (Social Care Wales) presentation ‘Social Care Wales: supporting the workforce to deliver good outcomes for children’.

Resources

Poems from those currently in residential care:

‘Our experiences of residential care’: Living and Leaving videos

LACE

Understanding the educational experiences and opinions, attainment, achievement and aspirations of looked-after* children in Wales.

Project Summary

The Welsh Government commissioned the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE) in early 2015 to conduct a study with care-experienced children and young people to explore their aspirations and experiences of education.

The project summary and outputs are available on the Cascade website, ‘Understanding the educational experiences and opinions, attainment, achievement and aspirations of looked-after* children in Wales’, and it is widely known as The LACE Project.

*The term ‘care-experienced’ children is now a widely used term in the sector and refers more broadly to anyone who has experienced being in care, regardless of their placement length, type or age. 

Creative Outputs

Alongside the report and executive summary, CASCADE also produced a number of innovative visual and audio materials to help disseminate the findings and recommendations of the research to a diverse range of audiences. These include the following videos, audio files, films, magazines and artwork.

Videos

Never look behind
Breathe
Continuity

Audio

Films

Aspirations of Looked After Children in Wales
Looked after children’s opinions on what needs to change in education
Looked after children and education in Wales 
Educational experiences of looked after children in Wales 

Posters

Magazines

Messages to schools

Following on from the LACE project, CASCADE received further funding from the Economic and Social Research Council for work around ‘Improving the educational experiences and attainment of looked after children and young people’. Consultations with children and young people led to the development of these key #messagestoschools:

#messagestoschools: The IAA Project

Following on from the LACE Project, the IAA project looked at improving the educational experiences and attainment of care experienced children and young people in Wales.

Project Summary

In May 2016, the Economic and Social Research Council provided the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE) with Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) funding to build on the findings and recommendations from the LACE project and get the messages out to diverse audiences.

The project, ‘Improving the educational experiences and attainment of looked after children and young people’ involved a series of events, workshops, consultations, and the development of a range of materials to deliver some important #messagestoschools.

Project Outputs

Consultations with care experienced children and young people, as well as a poetry competition for those in care and care leavers, led to the development of key #messagestoschools which were presented in a film, a music video and a series of posters. CASCADE worked with Voices from Care Cymru, the Care Forum Wales Looked After Children Network and the creative industries to develop a range of resources to help share these key messages to schools.

CASCADE also worked with The Fostering Network to develop the Greater Expectations magazine for foster carers.