Voice of the Child
Early Help is meaningless unless it champions the voice of the child. Needs cannot be met, nor situations improve, without listening to what the children have to say and acting on it.
Every agency listens to the voice of the child or young person in different ways. Practitioners should follow the guidelines used by their organisation which will be age and situation appropriate.
Make sure whatever part of the early help process you are following, you capture and record the voice of the child and most importantly take action on it.
A brief outline as to why we should listen to children. The law requires that children are included in decisions that affect them to ensure that their needs are paramount.
There is a legal duty to consult with children contained within many different pieces of legislation, including:
The Children Act (2004)
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1991)
The Children’s Plan (Building Brighter futures)
Benefits for All
It is not just about legal duties’, listening to and consulting with children and young people benefits everyone enormously by:
- Enhances emotional wellbeing and raises self esteem
- Developing a genuinely collaborative and inclusive environment and service
- Recognising and celebrating diversity
- Increasing knowledge and understanding of how children and young people respond to and value their environment and support.
- Ensuring children’s individual’s needs are met.
- Provides evidence for quality assurance and self-reflection.
- Developing decisions making skills.
- Creating a sense of responsibility for oneself and others.
How can we seek children’s views?
- Visual observations and written notes
- Use of camcorders that can be shared in discussions
- Books and photographs to promote discussion
- Visual sheets
- Music and art work
- Providing choices
The list is extensive, however the main tool we need to listen to children is our time and to ensure:
We listen to hear not listen to respond
There are many tools, resources and guides available to help you as a practitioner to listen to the voice of the child; we have included some tools and approaches that may be helpful