Introducing Birmingham Children in Care Council

How do you give a voice to young people in Birmingham who may feel they have no voice? We asked the members of Birmingham Children in Care Council…

We are a group of young people that meet regularly to discuss being in care and we think about how we can help Birmingham City Council make improvements.  We want to enable children and young people in care (and care leavers) to have a voice and be able to engage meaningfully at different times and in different ways and we want to ensure that corporate parents are listening to those views and showing genuine interest!

We have a new aims for 2016 and we think it sums us up well!

  • Bham CiCC is welcoming group of young people in care.
  • We are friendly, energetic and enthusiastic.
  • We are powerful, positive and amazing!
  • We want to give children in care a voice and we want to tell you if you are in care your voice matters!

We think there are lots of benefits to having a CiCC but these are the ones we tell people about all the time.

Potential to contribute to transforming the lives of those involved

Tammy: “I have had the opportunity to meet all sorts of people, other children and professionals. I have helped lead events and I am a vocal member of the group and I enjoy all the events we speak at. I think these opportunities have helped me develop more confidence in myself. I am part of CiCC because I want to improve things for other children in care…and I think we do!”

Zoe: “I have sat on interview panels and met people like Lord Warner. When I first sat on a panel I was very nervous but I felt more confident as it went on and some of the candidates were more nervous than me! I felt very proud at the end when I fed back my views and Birmingham employed the person I thought was best. I am more confident about being involved in my care plan as well. Being a member of CiCC has helped me know my rights and given me the confidence to share my views with people.”

Ability to show and evidence children and young people’s views and how their engagement can bring about changes to services

We identified campaigns in 2015 that we wanted to focus on. Pocket money has been much more complicated than we thought it would be. But because we raised and shared our concerns and views Birmingham is currently doing a review and we hope that clear guidance will be available soon and shared with children and young people. We are proud to have initiated this review and look forward to children and young people being much more aware of their entitlements and rights.

We also focused on young people’s requests to have sleepovers. Young people told us that sometimes they were confused about what they could ask for and what they couldn’t and sometimes permission takes so long that they just don’t bother. We are in care but we should have the same opportunities as other children so we asked for guidance to be reviewed and reissued to remind carers and social workers that things shouldn’t be so complicated that young people miss out on opportunities!

We also decided that we wanted to share more positive stories about being care.  You only hear about children in care when things go sadly wrong and these stories are upsetting for everyone but particularly if you are in care. We know that being in care can be a positive and we want to make sure all of the positives get shared as often as we can. We try to share our views and we try to do this whenever we can. We have also produced these resources (when I grow up – delete/insert) to help promote our work and all of the quotes are from children we talked to. We are very pleased that when Shannon grows up she wants to be a mermaid because we think every four year old should want to be a mermaid!

A CiCC can support and add meaningful value to a corporate parenting approach

We help shape the priorities for our corporate parenting board. We are getting to know the board and we often attend or host events including an annual Christmas party with Father Christmas! (Thankyou to him) We recently hosted a game show for corporate parents and collected lots of data from a 100 children in care and then played family fortunes to see if corporate parents could identify children’s top answers. We enjoy getting to know professionals better and we remind people all the time that they have a role to play to make things better for children in care.

We produced this resource recently (my ideal social worker) children told us what qualities they would like to see in their ‘ideal’ social worker and we would like to challenge everyone reading this to be the ideal worker that children in care want to be part of their life’s!

Our campaigns for 2016

  • We want to see meaningful and creative work experience opportunities for children in care/care leavers. This could be days, weeks or longer. In can be hard to get ‘good’ work experience if we come and ask our corporate parents to help us then you should!
  • We want to let young people and children know that they can attend their reviews. We want to work with the IRO team to ensure that children and young people can creatively and positively contribute to their care plans.
  • We will continue to share positive stories around being in care and we will work hard to tell everyone about the Children in Care Council.

If you want to give us any feedback or say hello or join the children in care council you can email advocacy@birmingham.gov.uk or ring 0121 303 7217 and speak to a member of Rights and Participation Service.

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Posted on April 25, 2016, in Guest Blogs. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. a brilliant initiative and much needed – I would be very interested in talking to you about mental health and well-being in the future!

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