A guide for carers VIEWPOINT [MY CARE] SURVEY. Listening to the voices of children and young people in care

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1 A guide for carers VIEWPOINT [MY CARE] SURVEY Listening to the voices of children and young people in care

2 VIEWPOINT MY CARE SURVEY Listening to the voices of children and young people in care THE IMPORTANCE OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE S VIEWS ABOUT LIVING IN CARE This new survey tool will be an opportunity for children and young people living in care to express their views and opinions on a variety of matters that relate to their experiences and wellbeing. Families SA want to collect this information so that we can improve the way services for these children and young people are managed. Carers are an important part of this process. NATIONAL REPORTING In October 2010, State and Territory Community Ministers agreed to a set of 13 national standards for out-of-home care starting from 1 July The standards are a key priority under the National Framework for Protecting Australia s Children and are aimed at improving outcomes for children and young people in care. The first national report on the views of children and young people in care is due to Australian Government Ministers in Viewpoint offers children and young people a non-threatening environment where they feel more able to express themselves, rather than in face-to-face conversations with adults.

3 HOW WILL INFORMATION BE COLLECTED? Children and young people will use web-based computer software called Viewpoint. Viewpoint is an interactive, self-interviewing tool that can be modified for children and young people of differing ages, literacy levels and also for children who have additional needs such as an intellectual or learning disability. Viewpoint is an easy-to-use, enjoyable way for children and young people to contribute to their case plans and annual reviews and to join with others in providing feedback about what s going well for them and what might need re-thinking. HOW WILL THIS AFFECT ME AS THE CARER? Although Viewpoint is new, there s nothing new about case managers talking to children and young people to find out about their experiences, wishes and concerns. Viewpoint is just another way that children and young people have a chance to say what they think and for their case manager to listen to what they have to say. The rules about confidentiality are the same as before and any issues that arise about placements will be dealt with in the same way.

4 What will change is the amount and quality of information that we receive from children and young people in care, both individually and as a group. Children s participation in the survey will help us to see where we re getting it right and where we need to improve on what we re doing. Case managers will contact carers to discuss children s circumstances, appropriate timing and where children would like to complete the My Care survey. HOW DOES VIEWPOINT WORK? Most children and young people are comfortable with computers. Viewpoint asks age-appropriate questions about their views, concerns, experiences and wishes. Viewpoint has a choice of vibrant background themes and animated assistants who guide the child or young person through the questions. There is an audio assistance function so that questions and answers can be spoken out loud. This can be a great help for someone with literacy difficulties. Children and young people set the pace themselves and there are game breaks to maintain interest. There is also a free type option so that they can put in their own comments. The Viewpoint survey is completed on a Families SA laptop at a place chosen by the child or young person in discussion with their case manager. This may be at home or at the Families SA Office or other appropriate location. Once the child or young person has completed their Viewpoint questionnaire, their case manager will go through the responses with them to discuss their answers and to agree on anything that needs follow-up. This is a critical part of the process, where the worker uses reflective skills to help the child or young person expand on what they ve said in the questionnaire to develop an understanding of what they mean, and generate possible actions or solutions.

5 Once the questionnaire is completed it will be uploaded to the Viewpoint database and will be stored on the child or young person s electronic file. The child or young person s responses will then be used by their case manager to create or update their case plan. Their responses will also be reviewed before their annual review (for children on Guardianship to 18 Orders). WHICH CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE WILL BE INVITED TO COMPLETE A VIEWPOINT SURVEY? Initially, every child or young person aged eight and over who has been in care for three months or more will be invited to complete a Viewpoint survey. As we gain experience using Viewpoint, additional questionnaires may be developed and other children or young people invited to participate. ADVANTAGES TO CONTRIBUTING TO THE SURVEY Participation of children and young people is important. Viewpoint offers an additional child friendly way for children to communicate their views and wishes about things that are significant to them. Better outcomes are possible when children and young people in care are active participants in expressing their opinions about decisions affecting their lives. WHAT HAPPENS TO THE INFORMATION CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE PROVIDE THROUGH THE VIEWPOINT SURVEY? When children and young people are asked to be open and share very personal information in any forum, they need to feel confident that the information they provide won t be automatically shared with others. Children and young people will be informed that their responses in Viewpoint are confidential and won t be disclosed without their consent. This same rule applies to any communication between children and young people and Families SA workers therefore this is no different from a discussion, phone call, or letter.

6 Individual responses will be added anonymously to the responses given by other children so we can hear from them as a group. This information is anonymous and can be openly shared with carers through our partnership networks. Where a child doesn t want to share information, their case manager will negotiate with them to find other ways of addressing their issues. Again, this is no different from any other situation when a child raises issues with their case manager. HOW WILL FAMILIES SA ENSURE THAT CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE ARE EXPRESSING THEIR OWN VIEWS? Families SA case managers will be trained to provide encouragement and support for children and young people to participate in giving their opinions, thoughts and ideas through the Viewpoint survey. Staff will be trained to not interfere in the survey process so the child or young person does not feel under any pressure to give right or wrong answers or the answer the child or young person thinks the case manager wants to hear. DO CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE A CHOICE ABOUT PARTICIPATING? Yes. Children and young people are invited and encouraged to participate in completing a Viewpoint survey, however participation is voluntary. Young people set the pace themselves and there are game breaks to maintain interest.

7 DO CARERS, FAMILY MEMBERS OR OTHER SIGNIFICANT PEOPLE GET TO SEE A CHILD OR YOUNG PERSON S RESPONSES? With the child or young person s permission, their individual Viewpoint responses can be discussed with carers, family members and other significant people. Positive feedback and any other issues raised by a young person about their placement will be shared with carers but only if the child or young person agrees to this disclosure. Where a child or young person doesn t want to share information, their case manager will negotiate with them to find other ways of addressing their issues. This is no different from any other situation when a child or young person raises issues with their case manager. HOW DO I HELP? You can assist by encouraging children or young people in your care to have a say about what¹s important to them through the Viewpoint survey. This is an important step to helping children develop confidence that what they have to say is valuable and important.

8 For further information Leon Doecke Information Systems Development telephone or

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