Consultation and Participation


  1. Principles
  2. Working in Partnership with Others
  3. Taking Children's Views, Wishes and Feelings into Account
  4. Children with Communication Difficulties

    Further Information

1. Principles

The principle of listening to the child and taking their views, wishes and feelings into account when planning and undertaking their care applies to all children, including children with disabilities, special educational needs or other complex needs.

Children and young people, including those who communicate non-verbally, should be supported to actively participate in day-to-day and more complex decisions about their lives, as appropriate. Their views will be ascertained and taken into account. They should be sensitively helped to understand when it may not be possible to act on their wishes and why other action is taken that is in their best interests. Children will have access to, and are actively encouraged to involve, an independent Advocate and, where appropriate, an Independent Visitor (see Advocacy, Independent Visitors and Independent Reviewing Officers Procedure). Children know their rights to advocacy, how to access an Advocate and how to contact the The Children's Commissioner for England.

Children can take up issues in the most appropriate way with support, without fear that this will result in any adverse consequences. Children will receive prompt feedback on any concerns or complaints raised and be kept informed of progress.

Children will receive care from staff who:

  • Develop positive relationships with them;
  • Engage with them; and
  • Take their views, wishes and feelings into account in relation to matters affecting the children's care and welfare and their lives.

The registered person must:

  • Ensure that staff:
    • Ascertain and consider each child's views, wishes and feelings, and balance these against what they judge to be in the child's best interests when making decisions about the child's care and welfare;
    • Help each child to express views, wishes and feelings;
    • Help each child to understand how the child's views, wishes and feelings have been taken into account and give the child reasons for decisions in relation to the child;
    • Regularly consult children, and seek their feedback, about the quality of the Home's care;
    • Help each child to understand how the child's privacy will be respected and the circumstances when it may have to be limited;
    • Help each child to prepare for any review of the child's relevant plans and to make the child's views, wishes and feelings known for the purposes of that review; and
    • Make each child aware of and, if necessary, remind them of, the Children’s Guide; how to make a complaint; and their entitlement to and how to access advocacy and services;
  • Ensure that each child:
    • Is enabled to provide feedback to, and raise issues with, a relevant person about the support and services that the child receives;
    • Has access to the Home's Children's Guide, and the Home’s Complaints procedure, when the child's placement in the Home is agreed and throughout the child's stay in the Home; and
    • Is given appropriate advocacy support.
  • Keep the Children's Guide and the Home’s Complaints procedure under review and seek children's comments before revising either document;
  • Ensure that an explanation is given to each child as soon as reasonably practicable after the child's arrival about:
    • The Children's Guide;
    • How to make a Complaint or representations in relation to the Home or the care the child receives and how any such complaint or representations will be dealt with; and
    • What advocacy support or services are available to the child, how the child may access that support or those services and any entitlement the child may have to independent advocacy provision; and
  • Ensure that the views of each relevant person are taken into account, so far as reasonably practicable, before making a decision about the care or welfare of a child.

2. Working in Partnership with Others

Section 22 of the Children Act 1989 and paragraphs 1.10 – 1.14 Children Act 1989: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review set out in detail the local authority's responsibilities with regard to seeking and taking into account a child’s wishes and feelings when they are looked after.

The Home should work in partnership with relevant people (including the child’s parents) as appropriate to ensure that each child is provided with support (appropriate to their age and understanding) to communicate their views, wishes and feelings and participate as fully as possible in all aspects of their care planning and daily care. This may include the use of and support to use communication aids, equipment and/or any necessary language support.

In relation to children who are looked after, including those placed in care under section 20 of the Children Act 1989, the placing authority will have recorded the level or type of family involvement that is appropriate in their Care Plan. The Home must take this into account when ensuring that the views of all relevant people are taken into account before making any decisions about the care or welfare of the child.

For children provided with short break care who are not looked after, the Home should frequently seek the views and involvement of parents/carers and others with a significant relationship to the child as relevant persons in that child’s care.

3. Taking Children's Views, Wishes and Feelings into Account

In some instances, a child may express wishes that are not always in their best interests or which may conflict with the views of other children in the Home. In such circumstances, the responsible adults will have to balance the wishes of the child against what they judge to be in the best interests of the child and reach a reasonable view about the best way forward in the interests of all. The reasons for reaching any decision will need to be carefully explained to and understood by the child or children concerned.

Staff should have the skills and confidence to communicate easily and understand the importance of listening to, involving and responding to the children they care for. Staff should understand that they have a responsibility to observe, notice and respond to children who are expressing their views, acknowledging that it is not the sole responsibility of the child to 'tell'. They should also understand how children might communicate their feelings through their behaviour, or non-verbally especially where the child has a disability which does not allow them to communicate as others might.

Children must be consulted regularly on their views about the Home's care, to inform and support continued improvement in the quality of care provided. Due consideration should be given to the child's cognitive ability in the development and implementation of any consultation processes. Children should be able to see the results of their views being listened to and acted upon.

Staff should ensure that each child understands the Home's procedures and policies for respecting their confidentiality and also when it will not be possible to preserve this – e.g. where protecting a confidence puts themselves or others at risk.

Staff should encourage children to share any concerns about their care or other matters as soon as they arise. Children must be able to take up issues or make a complaint with support and without any fear that this will result in any adverse consequences. Children must be aware of the Complaints by and On Behalf of Children Procedure and be reminded of it as necessary.

The registered person and the Home's staff should be familiar with the care planning process for looked-after children and must assist children to prepare for meetings in relation to this. Staff should play an important role in these meetings, including supporting the child and enabling a clear understanding to be reached about the child’s views, wishes, feelings, and expectations for their future. An independent Advocate can also be called upon by the child or staff to support the child in their reviews.

The registered person should provide opportunities and support, where needed, for children to engage with their local Children in Care Council, or other such local arrangements, which enable the views and experiences of children in care to be heard.

4. Children with Communication Difficulties

Children who cannot, or choose not to, verbalise, have the right to have their views, wishes and feelings heard and respected in the same way as other children. There may be children whose abilities and understanding are such that the requirements for ascertaining their wishes and feedback will need interpretation according to their individual circumstances in consultation with their social worker.

The registered person must not automatically use the views of parents as a proxy for children's views. Children will have their own perspective and arrangements should be in place to engage with them directly. In some cases, the view of a relevant person, such as a social worker or IRO, might be included in discussions where the person is interpreting or advocating on behalf of a child.

Further Information

Useful Websites

Council for Disabled Children - Provides useful resources for disabled children and young people.

IRISS: Frameworks for Child Participation in Social Care - An article which provides some interesting evidence based on research completed into children's participation.