The charity Action for Children has endorsed a call for children to have more say in the selection of care home staff.
In a report entitled Residential Children’s Homes published earlier this week by the House of Commons Education Committee , MPs spoke to various ‘witnesses’, professionals involved in work with children, experts and people with direct experience of life in the care system.
The report declares:
“Many of our witnesses emphasised that, alongside formal qualifications, personality, interpersonal skills and experience are important factors in making for good residential care workers. We agree that if children in care played a greater role in selecting care workers, they would be more likely to find staff that they could relate to. We recommend that the Government works with local authorities and children’s homes providers to set up pilots where children in care are given a greater role in selecting their care workers.”
Luke Rodgers, a “young person with experience of care”, recalled the great difference made by care home staff who genuinely engaged with the children in their care. He told the MPs:
“On this woman, I can only tell you how I feel about her. She just gave me some warmth and genuinely cared. She listened to me and would sit and do things and spend time with me. She would want to watch a programme on television that I would want to watch. It was very simple things. Much of the time I explain it by saying that simple acts of kindness for a child in care are few and far between. They never happen […] If just one person in a home […] performs a kind act for a child in care, watches a film with them, cooks their favourite meal or just really listens to what they want, it just fills you with warmth.”
Jan Leightley is the acting executive director of operation at Action for Children. She said:
“With any relationship you know if you click with somebody. This is the same for children in care and their support team which is why we support [this] recommendation. Care workers are everything to a young person; they are there when they wake up, get home from school or in the middle of the night if they wake from a nightmare.”