Staff urged by children to listen then deliver

Social workers and looked-after children have a different understanding of the concept of “listening”, which may explain why some young people feel their voices are not heard, new research suggests.

While social workers understood listening as “paying respectful attention to what the young people had to say”, young people felt listening was demonstrated “by delivering services that accorded with their expressed wishes”, the study published in the Baaf journal Adoption and Fostering found.

The research, by Alison McLeod, social work lecturer at St Martin’s College in Carlisle, Cumbria, surveyed opinion among staff and children in care in one council district and found they also had different views of the social worker’s role.

While the adults regarded emotional support as a key element of the social work role, young people most valued practical support and promotion of their self-determination.


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