Smith points out how, with the exception of the children’s rights perspective, most perspectives on welfare provision ‘share the view that someone other than thechild/young person knows best’ (2008; 51). This is not only unjust, but dangerous.There is a lot to be gained from active involvement and participation by young people, not just by the young people themselves but by social work and society as awhole.
What are the benefits for social work of being more centrallyinformed?
Social work with young people would benefit from being more centrally informed bythe views and experiences of service users because, by being more informed, it can become more responsive to their needs. There has been an abundance of researchcarried out into young people’s perspectives on how they are treated and,unfortunately, a lot of the feedback has been quite negative (Young People in Foster Care Consumer Panel 2005; Gilligan 2000). That is not to say that successful and positive experiences do not happen or are not documented (Hogan & Gilligan 1998),however, an overarching theme seems to be that young people do not feel listened toor consulted as part of the social work process. As a result of not being informed byyoung people’s views, social work is ill-equipped to respond to their needs. As noted by Thomas, ‘plans and decisions are better if they are based on the knowledge andopinions of those directly involved, and this surely applies where children areconcerned’ (2005; 27). Therefore, by involving children and young people andvaluing their experiences, better more informed decisions and plans can be maderesulting in more effective social work practice.In order to become centrally informed, social work needs to make meaningfulengagement with young people. Therefore, through the process of becoming moreinformed, social work can make and sustain good relationships with young people.The benefits of this are twofold; social workers can develop relationships with young people on an individual level as well as strengthening commitments to young peopleat a more systemic level. Firstly, on an individual basis, good relationships andeffective communication with a young service user make social work tasks easier.Assessment, for example would be made easier through participation from the young3