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Principles and Practice in
Communicating With Children
Communicating with Children ©
National Children's Bureau 2006
Communicating with children in
assessments
• Why do it?
• Context / background
• Benefits
• Good practice
• Cautions
Communicating with Children ©
National Children's Bureau 2006
Who says we have to involve children?
• The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
• The Children Act 1989, the Children Act 2004
• The Framework for the Assessment of
Children in Need (2000)
• S11 Guidance (2005)
• Working Together to Safeguard Children
(2006)
Communicating with Children ©
National Children's Bureau 2006
Who says...? (cont)
•
•
•
•
Every Child Matters agenda
The context of consumer rights
Local policy
My manager
• My professional standards
Communicating with Children ©
National Children's Bureau 2006
Messages from inquiries
• Communicating with children protects them
• Laming found evidence of no, or limited,
conversations with Victoria Climbié
‘In reality, the conversations with Victoria
were limited to little more than “hello, how are
you?” The only ‘assessment’ completed
involved the writing down of limited and
sometimes contradictory information provided
by Kouao’
Communicating with Children ©
National Children's Bureau 2006
Messages from inspections
‘The National Assessment Framework for
Children in Need is well understood in almost
all councils. The majority of assessments of
children and their families are satisfactory. A
significant minority do not include children
and families sufficiently or incorporate all key
information.’
From ‘Making Every Child Matter’ CSCI
(2005)
Communicating with Children ©
National Children's Bureau 2006
But also from CSCI
‘We see some excellent assessments that:
• fully involve the child and their parents and
take their views into account
• make full use of information from the range of
agencies involved with the child and family
and link it together effectively
• take account of cultural issues and
influences, using the skills of specialist staff
where appropriate
Communicating with Children ©
National Children's Bureau 2006
But also from CSCI (cont)
• assemble a holistic picture of the child in their
family, that weighs the significance of
information from all sources to determine the
nature and extent of risk to them
• use that information and exercise skilled
professional judgement about the issues to
be addressed and needs to be met.’
Communicating with Children ©
National Children's Bureau 2006
Involving children works
• Children feel listened to, taken seriously, and
this helps them to deal with difficult situations
• When children are involved in decisionmaking and planning, the plans are more
likely to be successful
• Services developed with the influence of
children and young people are more likely to
meet their needs
Communicating with Children ©
National Children's Bureau 2006
Good practice 1: Build competence
• By providing information so that children and
young people can contribute meaningfully
• By giving time and explanations so that they
can properly understand the issues and the
process
• By being clear about what will be discussed,
and the likely consequences. Be straight
about the boundaries of confidentiality
• By giving access to independent advocacy
services if required
Communicating with Children ©
National Children's Bureau 2006
Good practice 2: Practical considerations
• Pay attention to venues and who will be
present. Children should be involved in
deciding who, when and where
• Provide interpreters if required
• Think about what tools and techniques you will
use. Preparation and planning
• Think about the use of new technologies
Communicating with Children ©
National Children's Bureau 2006
Good practice 3: Create the right culture
• Children are more likely to talk to people they
know and trust – it takes time to build trust
• Feedback and discuss the outcomes, what
happened
• Follow up – do what you said you would do
• Be flexible in response to what children and
young people say
Communicating with Children ©
National Children's Bureau 2006
Good practice 4 : Child-led assessments
• Start with what is important to the child
• Go at the child’s pace – gradually build a
picture of their needs
• Attend to positives as well as negatives
• Forms / tick boxes / checklists don’t always
work well for children
Communicating with Children ©
National Children's Bureau 2006
Children’s responses
• Developmental considerations – children’s
understanding at different ages, adolescents’
willingness to engage
(but don’t forget individual differences)
• Cultural differences
• Adverse events affecting children’s responses
Communicating with Children ©
National Children's Bureau 2006
Cautions
• Sensitivity to children’s plans / schedules
• Don’t let children down – be reliable, honest
and accountable
• Support carers to support the child involved
• Involve other trusted adults outside the family
• Don’t just talk – try other methods
Communicating with Children ©
National Children's Bureau 2006
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