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What does it take to engage care leavers in decision making?

An event held by The National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum discusses the importance of stimulating care leavers' interest and participation in influencing policy.

18 February 2015

The National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum met in London last week to address ways that local authorities can involve care leavers in decision making to influence policy.

An engaging training session guest-facilitated by Kaizen Partnership encouraged delegates to develop strategies to overcome barriers to participation, discuss examples of good practice that local authorities are using and identify actions to implement in the future.

Challenging local authorities to look at their own views

Attendees were encouraged to think ‘outside the box’ to challenge their beliefs about participation, consider why it is important for young people and what needs to be in place to ensure effective participation.

Key strategies identified for successful engagement included:

  • persistence
  • future-focused thinking
  • focusing on the positives instead of the negatives
  • clarity of roles and responsibilities
  • use of language
  • creative funding streams
  • realistic expectations
  • working collaboratively
  • multi-faceted support.

‘Participation is not an isolated activity – it needs to be part of a wider plan developed with young people at the centre’.

Understanding young people’s reasons for engaging

Participants were introduced to the ‘Engagement to Action’ model which includes stages that lead to effective engagement like raising awareness and stimulating interest, creating opportunities and choice, addressing the needs and barriers before action can take place.

Delegates discussed challenges faced at each step and methods for managing problems that may arise. Young people have different reasons for engaging in projects so it is necessary to know what is important to each young person.

Throughout the event there were a number of practice examples shared by staff and young people from members.

Next event and continued discussions

Following on from this event, delegates have been encouraged to continue discussing and exchanging ideas via an online notice board set up by Catch22’s National Care Advisory Service.

Visit the Events page for information about future events.