Monday, 22 April 2013

Being valued - workshop update - Part 2

Workshop 4 - the last in the series of “Getting It Right for Looked after Disabled Children and Young People”.

Anita Franklin, Centre for Children and Families Applied Research in Coventry University, presented “Being Valued: Disabled children’s rights to advocacy”. She talked about advocacy for children and young people. There was a severe lack of research on advocacy of disabled children and young people. While working for the Children’s Society, she and her team researched  “Someone on Our Side” to explore the processes and outcomes of advocacy services for disabled children and young people. The research shows that only small numbers of children and young people receive advocacy. They had little choice over who advocates for them. She suggested the importance of the quality of the relationship between advocate and child rights based approach, variety of methods to engage and empower, creative and flexible approach, shared commitment across services, training and skills development for advocates, and funding.

Action groups discussed the workshops and how to take their points forward into research, policy and practice. Different groups pointed out the tension between the practice and policy to consider children and young people’s opinion.

This is the fourth and last in a series of workshops looking at “Getting it Right for Looked after Disabled Children and Young People”. (read about the 1st2nd and 3rd workshops on the blog.) The workshops discussed: the lack of pertinent data about disabled looked after children and young people; forum theatre and different participatory methods to communicate with them; the current situation in research, policy and practice about their rights; and the development of their rights movement in local and international perspectives. Louise Hill concludes that children and young people’s opinions should be counted, heard, included and valued when we start our first step to put our action into practice.

The workshops have brought together academics, policy makers, service practitioners, third sector organisations, service user organisations to discuss and debate the key issues with the aim of generating an impetus for research, policy and practice that will ultimately improve the lives of looked after disabled children and young people.

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