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Young people’s rights

Young people have the right …

Young people in care have rights that must be central to all decision making. The Charter of Rights embedded in the Child Protection Act 1999, section 74, Schedule 1 describes the core rights applicable to every young person who is subject to the custody or guardianship of Child Safety.

In addition, Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that ‘all children and young people have the right to say what they think should happen when adults are making decisions that affect them and to have their opinions taken into account’.

In relation to permanency and stability, young people provide the best insight into their life experiences. This can be used to inform and influence critical decision-making (CREATE, 2019).

… to be informed

Providing relevant and easy to understand information about permanency can minimise the powerlessness that is often a feature of a young person’s experience in care (Stott and Gustavsson, 2010). A report recently released by the CREATE Foundation (2019) highlights confusion and different understandings among young people about what permanency means and what permanent care arrangements entail.

We need to make sure young people know what permanency is, what the relational, physical and legal dimensions of permanency are, and how timely permanency decisions address their long term needs for safety and stability.

… to be consulted

Young people have the right to be consulted and listened to in all aspects of planning for their safety and wellbeing. Consultation can support a sense of fairness in decision making, which young people value more than the actual decision being made (Augsberger, 2014).

Consultation is essential when making decisions about permanency and stability (Stott and Gustavsson, 2010), and regular consultation with young people can help practitioners to gain a clear understanding of important issues that need to be considered (CREATE, 2019)

… to participate in decision making

The right of young people to participate in decisions about permanency planning is widely reinforced in the literature (CREATE, 2019; Augsberger, 2014; Geenen and Powers, 2007, cited Avery, 2010).

To ensure young people are active participants in decisions about permanency, draw on effective engagement strategies such as developing relationships, outlining boundaries for confidentiality, and addressing real or perceived power imbalances (Augsberger, 2014).

Active participation enables young people to have a ‘sense of control over their destiny’ (Stott and Gustavsson, 2010, p. 623).

Consider each individual young person’s views when thinking and planning for permanency. Reflect back to them what you are hearing, and check understanding. If decisions are made that are different to the young person’s views and wishes, ensure that they know their views were heard and considered, and the reason for the decision.

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