Steve Percival - The Power of Complaining


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Steve Percival on "The Power of Complaining" at the 2010 CROA Conference in Manchester -

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Steve Percival - The Power of Complaining

  1. 1. Steve Percival NYAS Senior Advocate
  2. 2. Jimmy’s Case Study <ul><li>When NYAS became involved, Jimmy was 12 years old and in an emergency foster care placement </li></ul><ul><li>Involvement with professionals from the age of 3 when he first made allegations of sexual abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Exclusions from School from a very early age and very challenging behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>Following assessments, Jimmy is referred to a rural specialist residential school at 6 yrs. old. </li></ul><ul><li>Subject to physical violence until the age of 10, when he was eventually placed in foster care </li></ul>
  3. 3. The NYAS referral process <ul><li>Anyone can refer a child to NYAS, with the child’s consent, but we much prefer the child to contact us themselves. We can then be certain of their instruction and their wish for advocacy support. </li></ul><ul><li>Jimmy was informed of our services by his SW who then made the referral so that he might ‘discuss his past experiences with other authorities and agencies and to make sure that he has a voice.’ </li></ul>
  4. 4. Meetings & greetings <ul><li>A speedy response is imperative for many reasons but, primarily, it engenders trust whilst recognising the importance of the referral and its issues. NYAS like to meet with the child within 24 hrs. and are contractually obliged to do so within 72. </li></ul><ul><li>It is vital that an advocate move at the pace of the child and actively find appropriate methods and levels of communication. Consideration must be given to language, culture, venue, artwork, reflective listening, writing, makaton etc. </li></ul>
  5. 5. The legal basis… <ul><li>The LA have a duty to ensure advocacy services are provided for children and young people, including care leavers, making or intending to make a complaint under section 24D or section 26 of the Children Act 1989 as amended by the Adoption and Children Act 2002. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Barriers to this… <ul><li>Levels of energy required </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding the system and process as well as being aware of it </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of faith in the system </li></ul><ul><li>Not believing it will make any difference </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of being penalised / labelled a trouble maker </li></ul><ul><li>System feels overwhelming </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of confrontation </li></ul>
  7. 7. The role… <ul><li>to empower children or young people by enabling them to express their views, wishes or feelings, or by speaking on their behalf; </li></ul><ul><li>to seek the resolution of any problems or concerns, identified by the child, by working in partnership with children and only with their agreement ; </li></ul><ul><li>to speak for or represent children at the initial stage of the complaints procedure by providing information, advice and support; </li></ul><ul><li>to support children and young people pursuing a complaint through the complaints procedure </li></ul><ul><li>to represent children at any stage, including any formal hearing or interviews </li></ul>
  8. 8. Gaining wishes and feelings <ul><li>Article 12, UNCRC & Sec. 22 CA 89 </li></ul><ul><li>Jimmy was able to offer a clear account of his complaints and these verbatim views were recorded and presented as such. They inform the complaint much more clearly than anyone else can, and allow for full participation in and ownership of the process. </li></ul>
  9. 9. In my own words… <ul><li>Jimmy’s complaint centred on the treatment he received whilst in the care of the residential school. This included over 400 recorded restraints in a 4.5 year period, bullying, allegations of sexual abuse, lack of education and safeguarding issues due to his absconding behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>Having spent several years in the school, Jimmy was unable to read or write when he finally entered foster care and his complaint, in his own words, included: </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>‘ It was miles away from anywhere and I couldn’t get home’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ All day restraints – I was held down all day’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ I had all the ligaments in my leg split – I wasn’t taken to hospital’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ I would get six staff to restrain me while the other young people made a run for it/jumped’ </li></ul><ul><li>’ If I’d been restrained between 6 and 7pm, I wouldn’t get any food until breakfast; they said it was my own fault that I was going hungry’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ No-one had the same room for long – you had to move your stuff from one room to another’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ I used to shove something in the lock so the staff couldn’t get me’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ We used to try and misbehave when OFSTED visited but we were locked in our room with staff outside, or moved to the other house when they were visiting, or taken out’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ I would like the school to be ended so stuff cannot happen to any young people anymore’ </li></ul>
  11. 11. Jimmy’s complaint <ul><li>Working in partnership with Jimmy and the Local Authority, representations were made on his behalf to the LA that placed him at the school and to Ofsted. </li></ul><ul><li>These were submitted in writing and included verbatim comments from the child. They were also cc’d to the Jimmy, along with any other correspondence. </li></ul><ul><li>With Jimmy’s consent, follow-up letters were sent when no response had been received, and the complaints now rest at Stage 2 of the representations process. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Learning Outcomes <ul><li>A complaint reaching Stage 2 is an opportunity lost: </li></ul><ul><li>people can become entrenched and problematized, and every effort should be made to resolve immediate concerns whilst involving the child in every stage of the process. Advocacy helps to ensure this. </li></ul><ul><li>Complaining about the complaint process. </li></ul><ul><li>Complaints can be passed around and not swiftly acknowledged or addressed. Advocacy can independently ensure this does not happen. </li></ul><ul><li>A child’s choice to accept Advocacy at the point of complaint must be an informed and engaged decision – a leaflet cannot convey the benefits of a service. </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>All children are now deemed to be vulnerable. </li></ul><ul><li>It is NYAS’ belief that all vulnerable children and young people should have access to independent advocacy. </li></ul>
  14. 14. NYAS Legal <ul><li>May 2010 - NYAS expands the legal services it provides nationally. </li></ul><ul><li>Lawyers are recruited with extensive experience in the fields of education, family, child, community care and public law. </li></ul><ul><li>As the impact of public sector cuts takes hold it is crucial that the rights of vulnerable children and young people are not lost. </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>NYAS is specifically able to represent parents/carers, related professionals and children and young people in cases involving the following: </li></ul><ul><li>Special educational needs, including appeals to the First-Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability); </li></ul><ul><li>Exclusions, including challenging informal exclusions and assisting with appeals to the Governing Body and Independent Appeal Panel; </li></ul><ul><li>Children who are without a school place or suitable education; </li></ul><ul><li>Disability discrimination, including claims to the First-Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability); </li></ul><ul><li>Bullying; </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>School admissions, including appeals to the Statutory Appeal Panel; </li></ul><ul><li>Home-to-school transport; </li></ul><ul><li>Support from social services by way of service provision or direct payments; </li></ul><ul><li>Accommodation for homeless children; </li></ul><ul><li>Looked after children’s access to services; </li></ul><ul><li>Leaving care provision for looked after young people; </li></ul><ul><li>Support in the home for disabled children and their families; </li></ul><ul><li>Young carers; </li></ul><ul><li>Applications for contact or residence; </li></ul><ul><li>Kinship care; and </li></ul><ul><li>Financial support from social services. </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>In a study by Swansea University, children were asked to rank in order of importance reasons for giving them a say in the decision making process, they consistently found that: </li></ul><ul><li>‘ To be listened to’ came out as most important </li></ul><ul><li>‘ To get what I want’ ranked bottom </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>web: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>t: 0800 61 61 01 </li></ul><ul><li>e: [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>txt: 0777 333 4555 </li></ul>