She believes that it encourages them to take an active position as citizens in society now and in the future. These ideas can be illustrated by the success of the children’s council at ……. School (Audio 1, Section 5). By giving children the chance to discuss issues that are important to them and witnessing their suggestions implemented in practice must surely provide a great sense of achievement, experience value and respect and heighten their sense of ownership and community identity. All of which are extremely beneficial to their well-being.
If children are accessing welfare services it can often mean they are experiencing adversity. Their ability to express their own views and be listened to could have a constructive effect on their capacity to cope with stress. Kobasa (1979, cited in Topic 3, p22) identifies, within the qualities for coping, the importance of control and commitment. If, in practice, we create opportunities for children to influence their situation, through direct involvement in decision making we are assisting them to seize control, develop problem solving skills, find solutions and nurture their resilience.
Grotberg (1995) supports this argument in stating that “They encourage children to become increasingly autonomous….. Children themselves increasingly become active in promoting their own resilience” (cited in Topic 3, p29). A crucial aspect of enabling children to participate by expressing their views and being listened to is the potential for respect. Gill Keep from Childline (Audio 1, Section 7) believes that by valuing what the child says and giving them respect, the success of Childline’s practice has been ensured.
It has also been suggested by Landsdown that children who feel their opinions are respected and enabled to take part in decision making go on to develop the confidence to challenge any abuse of their rights, unthinkable within the traditional model of children’s welfare. Of course this is made possible by the clear complaints procedures implicated by the UNCRC (in the Reader, p95). Services can also benefit from working within the framework of the UNCRC and, in particular, actively promoting children’s rights to participation.
If beneficiaries of a service are treated in an individualised manner whereby the professionals listen to their views and support them in expressing their feelings and ideas, a better quality of service would surely be delivered (Topic 6, p16). Referring back to the course case study, the manager of The Meadows highlights the need to build better provision through their enabling role in consultation with service users. This ensures that the values, needs and expectations of the beneficiaries are respected, reflect in policy making and worked towards in practice.
This inclusivity determines that services are more responsive and would, therefore, make them more efficient and cost effective; crucial to consider when functioning on limited resources. It is also, obviously, beneficial to the individual user’s well-being if they are having their needs met by a quality responsive service (Topic 6, pp14-17). There are difficulties to face when implementing childcare practice that seeks to actively promote the rights of children. Firstly, it is difficult to decipher at what age a child is competent enough to make important decisions.
It would be dependent upon the development of the individual child and the nature of the decision (Thomas in the Reader, p109). However, if practice is individually Abigail Bryning T6602254 tailored to the child and strong appropriate communication is in place, even young children can benefit from being facilitated to express a suitable level of contribution. At times it may be impossible to implement the wishes of a child. For example, within the course case study it was demonstrated that funding limitations prevented Leroy from extending his placement at The Meadows Centre despite his wish to stay (Topic 6, pp13, 14).
Gill Keep also highlighted this issue in her account (Audio 1, section 7). However, she countered this by adding that children are able to understand and accept the limitations and feel it is beneficial in itself to be listened to. Effective practice that consults with the beneficiaries of the service will still adhere to the right to participate even if it is only to explain the reasons for rejecting the wishes of the child. Perhaps the most difficult challenge to the rights of children to participate is the public’s continuing resistance to change.
The ideas that have constructed the traditional model of children’s welfare that perceives them as subjects in “need”, with a dependent status and as the property of adults are so deeply entrenched that many people are reluctant to adopt the new “rights” approach. A change in attitude will require a little longer achieving (Roberts in the Reader, p64). In conclusion, actively promoting children’s rights to protection from harm, provision and, importantly, participation will have a positive effect on individual well-being.
It can enable respectful relationships between providers of services and users, encourage development, promote coping mechanisms and resilience, enhance Quality of Life and redistribute the balance of paternalistic power. Adopting practice that works within the framework of the UNCRC will also increase the responsiveness of provision, enhancing the visibility of children within policy and decision making. Difficulties may have to be faced in adopting the “Rights” approach; in particular providers need to develop individualised strategies to give children the opportunity to participate at a level in which they are competent.
It must be recognised that there is still a long way to go before children’s rights are fully realised and constructed as the desirable norm. However, if we acknowledge the potential benefits of good quality practice that seeks to achieve this, the standard and experience of children’s welfare will rise. Abigail Bryning T6602254.
References Landsdown, G. (2001) “Children’s Welfare and Children’s Rights” in Foley, P. , Roche, J. and Tucker, S. (eds) Children in Society: Contemporary Theory, Policy and Practice, Basingstoke, Palgrave/Milton Keynes, The Open University (Course Reader)
Roberts, M. (2001) “Childcare Policy” in Foley, P. , Roche, J. and Tucker, S. (eds) Children in Society: Contemporary Theory, Policy and Practice, Basingstoke, Palgrave/Milton Keynes, The Open University (Course Reader) Roche, J. (2001) “Quality of Life for Children” in Foley, P. , Roche, J. and Tucker, S. (eds) Children in Society: Contemporary Theory, Policy and Practice, Basingstoke, Palgrave/Milton Keynes, The Open University (Course Reader) Thomas, N.(2001)
“Listening to Children” in Foley, P. , Roche, J. and Tucker, S. (eds) Children in Society: Contemporary Theory, Policy and Practice, Basingstoke, Palgrave/Milton Keynes, The Open University (Course Reader) The Open University (2001) K204 Working with Children and Families Topic 3, “Promoting Children’s Quality of Life”, Milton Keynes, The Open University The Open University (2001) K204 Working with Children and Families Topic 5, “The Legal Framework”, Milton Keynes, The Open University.
The Open University (2001) K204 Working with Children and Families Topic 6, “Providing and Resourcing Services”, Milton Keynes, The Open University The Open University (2001) K204 Working with Children and Families Audio 1, Section 5, Milton Keynes, The Open University The Open University (2001) K204 Working with Children and Families Audio 1, Section 6, “The Children’s Legal Centre”, The Open University The Open University (2001) K204 Working with Children and Families Audio 1, Section 7, “Childline”, Milton Keynes, The Open University.