In Scotland, the implementation of Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) (The Scottish Government, 2010), and the move towards multi agency working, has increased the need for a child-centred approach in supporting CYP. For the past 9 years, GIRFEC has been the key driver of working practice for professionals who work with CYP.
The challenge for practitioners has been to implement a policy which not only listens to the views of CYP but also allows them to become actively involved in making life decisions. Some practitioners have embraced this concept and have substantially increased the participation of the CYP who use their service; whilst others have been supportive of the policy but have struggled to implement it in practice. Putting systems in place which actively seek the views of CYP can be challenging and time consuming. However, in Health, Education, Social Services and the Third Sector much emphasis has been placed on evidencing the child's voice. Whilst this has been a positive move in the right direction, it does not go far enough. We need to see evidence that CYP views are influencing real life change.
The other issue, which is often ignored, is the need for practitioners to adapt their communication style and practice to accommodate the needs of CYP who may have communication support needs. It is unacceptable practice to state, "child unable to give their views." Every child has the right to express a view and this requires that practitioners adopt a range of creative techniques to help them to elicit the views of a CYP with communication support needs. It is the responsibility of everyone working with CYP to build capacity for decision-making, starting from an early age.
This pilot project examines how three services are implementing CYP participation in practice: a Primary school, a Third Sector Childcare service and a paediatric Occupational Therapy service. These three different contexts were used to represent the Education, Third sector and Health sectors.
Using the Lundy checklist of participation as a baseline measure, each of the services were asked to review their practice and see how well it aligned with the principles of UNCRC Article 12.
We trained practitioners to use Talking Mats™, which is a creative approach to eliciting views, and then asked them to use it in practice. Practitioners sent us case reports evidencing how CYP views influenced their practice and we collated and analysed the responses. We asked them to reflect on how much the Lundy model helped their understanding of Article 12 and if using Talking Mats improved the quality of their conversations.
This report provides an overview of practice which allows us to learn from each other and identifies key steps towards helping practitioners to understand their obligations in implementing UNCRC Article 12.