Mandy O’Sullivan, social work student, Open University, on placement at Wokingham Borough Council

Photo: MNStudio/Fotolia

Photo: MNStudio/Fotolia

I’m about to go into the third year of my social work degree. I have used Community Care Inform for various assignments during my course; I find it useful for research and evidence on specific issues such as domestic violence and attachment, and how to improve practice with children and families.

I read the Guide to child-centred reviews for looked-after children and young people for one of my assignments.

My day-to-day role is personal advisor in a team for children in care and care leavers. When I read through the article, I could see how it was really applicable to our team’s work. Historically, looked-after child (LAC) reviews have been seen as a somewhat dry process that doesn’t really engage the child who should be the focus of the LAC review.

I mentioned this research on LAC reviews to our training consultant as I thought this would be a really good way of working with our young people. They had seen it on Community Care Inform as well.

We have already started implementing some of these ideas so that the reviews are led as much as possible by young people. For example: at the end of a recent meeting, the independent reviewing officer (IRO) asked the young person where he wanted his next LAC review to take place and what kind of refreshments we should have. Obviously there are some limits on where we can have the meeting but giving the power to make these decisions and encouraging the children and young people to be involved makes a big difference and shows that their input is valued. The IRO also informed us that for a recent review, the child requested staff to attend in fancy dress!

Seeing these sorts of ideas on Community Care Inform is really useful – we don’t need to reinvent the wheel if we can learn from good practice and research elsewhere.

I’m sure I will continue to use the site as I go into my final year.

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