Playing to our strengths: supporting children in care during and after the pandemic
Nottinghamshire County Council is continuing to help children and young people in its care throughout the pandemic by using a new strength-based approach.
The new approach focuses on identifying the strengths of children and young people, as well as their needs, building up their confidence and celebrating their successes.
Recently one young person in care has had one of their poems, ‘The Smile’, published through ‘a Poetry Odyssey’, a collection of verse which will be held in the National Library.
The new strength-based approach will be supported by an Independent Chair Service to promote the best outcomes for children and young people, by working with them, their families, carers, and professionals, to ensure they are kept safe and achieve their potential.
By the end of March 2021, a year after the first national lockdown, Nottinghamshire County Council was looking after 996 children and young people, a slight increase since the previous year, when it looked after 923 children and young people.
This slight increase reflects a national rise in the number of looked after children, although Nottinghamshire is still lower than the national average and when compared to neighbouring local councils. Despite the increase 97.6% of reviews for looked after children and young people in Nottinghamshire were held within timescales.
The council’s priorities for the service over the next year include fully embedding the strength-based model into all it’s work with looked after children, actively supporting more children and young people to access independent advocates, and holding child-focused reviews, where children are empowered to participate, including child-friendly agendas, reports, and meeting records.
Councillor Tracey Taylor, Chair of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee, said:
“We’re committed to achieving positive outcomes for looked after children and young people, both while they are in our care, and once they have left.
“We like to focus on their strengths, and celebrate their achievements, while doing all we can to prepare them for their lives ahead and ensuring that their voices are heard. While the last year or so has obviously been very challenging, I’m very proud of our children and young people, and everyone who works with them and supports them.
“Many have made real personal progress and have worked hard to secure a better future for themselves, while helping others around them.”
The smile you see isn’t always true
The sadness I feel is nothing new
My feelings are unnoticed
Because I never show this
The thoughts that go through my head
Feelings like I’m numb and dead
Sometimes I want to scream and shout
But I never let these feelings out
The smile you see is never true
But the sadness I feel is something I’ll get through
- For more information please see agenda item 9 in Nottinghamshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee 21.06.21
- Children and young people in care in Nottinghamshire are supported by Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs), who are there to protect their interests, ensure they have the chance to talk through how they are feeling, and express their wishes.
- IROs chaired 2,635 children and young people’s reviews by the end of March 2021, an increase of 476 since the previous year, despite the pandemic. These were all held remotely, due to the impact of the coronavirus. These figures come from a review of the year from April 2020 to March 2021.
- The remote reviews referred to above were supported by the Mind of My Own apps, developed in 2019. The apps make it easier for children and young people in care to express their views, thoughts, and feelings to social workers, IROs and other staff. Nottinghamshire County Council won a national award for the way it introduced the new range of apps, designed for and by young people who are supported by social workers, in 2020.