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The children’s views digest

I have served children as the Children’s Rights Director for England from 2001 to the repeal of the role in 2014. Throughout that time, I have had a legal duty to ‘ascertain the views’ of children and young people in my remit – that is children in care, children receiving social care services, care leavers, children placed for adoption, children living in residential family centres, and children living away from home in all types of boarding school and college, including boarding prep and public schools, local authority boarding schools, residential special schools and residential further education colleges.

This is my last report of children’s views as Children’s Rights Director, summarising the views and experiences children gave us in our statutory consultations with them in the decade between 2004 and 2014. It is intended as a ‘digest’ in one place of the children’s views on many rights, welfare and safeguarding subjects, given to me and my team at the Office of the Children’s Rights Director and published in our series of children’s views reports. It incorporates and builds upon my earlier publications summarising children’s main messages on care.

The digest begins with the subject of children’s rights themselves, summarising reports giving children’s views on children’s rights and responsibilities, and their experience of receiving the rights set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. I have gone on to summarise the children’s own assessment of children’s social care services, as given in the latest Children’s care monitor report published in 2014. Then I have summarised children’s views on the key issue of safeguarding, from our specific consultations on that subject.

The digest continues with summaries of children’s views reports on specific issues from my team’s consultations over the past decade, in chronological order from 2004 to 2014. It ends with brief summaries of the advice children have given to successive Children’s Ministers in the series of ‘Ministerial Quarterly’ meetings we have arranged and chaired in recent years.

The views of children are essential to all involved in developing children’s policy, providing children’s services, or inspecting services for children. Their views
are thoughtful, to the point, often surprising and innovative, and set out the experience of our services by the users of those services. Some clear common themes come through the reports summarised in this digest, reinforced by different children in different consultations at different times.

The contents of this digest, as of all my children’s views reports, are purely the views of children, without my own comments and without selection according to whether I, the government, professionals, any organisation or other researchers agree with or dislike what the children have said.

I hope that you will find this quick reference digest both illuminating and a real contribution to your work with and for children.