Involving children and young people in developing social care
Case study 1: Care Action Team, Hampshire Children's Services
Service provided by organisation
The Care Action Team (CAT), established in 1999, is a group of young people who are, or have been, in care. They work alongside members and officers of Hampshire County Council to improve the services offered to children and young people in and leaving care.
Characteristics of children/young people involved
Seven care-experienced core members aged 15-21: 5 females and 2 males. Majority of users are white.
How participation has been developed
CAT was established following concerns raised by children and young people about the care system within Hampshire. The project is young person-led and facilitated by two previous members who are now employed by the council. The team holds a general meeting once a month and meet outside this to focus on specific pieces of work such as consultations, inspections and training provision. There are six bursary posts for young people who are more heavily involved in the project's work. The team also visit residential homes to ensure that the views of the most vulnerable young people are gathered.
As 'experts' in the care system, we train and give presentations to professionals who work with young people; advise and challenge managers on decisions relating to the services that affect young people; promote the importance of 'true' consultation with young people; and work to change society's stereotype of young people in care.
Hampshire County Council has demonstrated a commitment towards participation through the funding of a participation officer. The work of the Care Action Team is led by young people themselves; they have control over the agenda and activities. The participation workers offer support and facilitation.
Changes or improvements as a result of children and young people's participation
- The team itself has become more structured and supported.
- The 'CAT Mark', a charter mark for services working with children and young people, was developed. It has been adopted by a number of agencies including Connexions and has led to the development of close relationships with government.
- The sleepover policy was changed, making it easier for young people to stay overnight with friends.
- The Children's Homes Education Policy was developed, which has improved support for young people in care.
- Trained educational psychologists at Southampton University and designated tutors at further education colleges.
- Young people are now involved in the appointment of all staff in leaving-care teams.
- Young people are now involved in the inspection of children's homes.
- Young people themselves have an increased sense of worth and awareness that they are not alone in their experiences.
Evidence of outcomes from participation
The project has produced the following documentation to evidence the development of participation:
- job descriptions that include reference to the importance of participation
- information on the CAT Mark, changes to policies and inspection reports.
Contact person and role: Morag Currie
Address: Care Action Team, Hampshire County Council Children's Services, Trafalgar House, The Castle, Winchester SO23 8UQ
Telephone: 01962 845 700