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CIT used an existing child centred review model developed by Helen Sanderson Associates for SEN reviews and, working in partnership with Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) from Sheffield City Council, developed a child centred process and range of accompanying resources which fulfilled the statutory requirements of a Looked After Children’s Review. This was then piloted with 21 looked after children (LAC) aged between 8 and 16 years old from across Sheffield.
A child centred review ensures that everyone, especially the child, has the opportunity to have their say and is enabled to do so in an appropriate, accessible and meaningful way. It puts the child at the centre of their meeting and aims to give them increased ownership and a greater comprehension of the decisions that are made about their life. It also aims to be a positive experience, focussing before anything else on the personal qualities and successes of the individual as a person, not as a problem or as a list of deficiencies, and continues in a solution-focussed way, emphasising the merits of shared decision-making and mutual respect.
The pilot was evaluated and all children, family members, and professionals involved were asked for their views on the new process. The children and young people in the evaluation were overwhelmingly positive about the process and 20 out of the 21 in the pilot have asked to continue to have their reviews done in this way in the future. On the whole, the process was well received by professionals, with some excellent feedback which have resulted in some tweaks and slight changes to the process and resources that support it. For example, some of the wording has been changed in the consultation booklet and the `headings to make it clearer and easier to understand.
At this moment in time development of child centred reviews is a key priority in the Sheffield Looked After and Adopted Children’s Strategy. In Sheffield, each IRO has been asked to identify 10% of their reviews to facilitate using the child centred process. There is still some way to go before all looked after children’s reviews are facilitated in this way, if indeed this will ultimately be felt to be appropriate. However, it is clear from the evaluation of the pilot that this is an innovative way to ensure that children are actively taking part in their reviews in a meaningful and positive manner.
The Children’s Involvement Team will be at the Independent Reviewing Services Conference on Monday 11th May to present the model, the resources and our evaluation findings.