Hearing the voices of children and young people in residential care will be the focus of a new monitoring program that has kicked off this week. Our team of GCYP advocates will be conducting virtual meetings with children and young people living in residential facilities to find out what life is like for them, especially in the context of COVID-19. Face-to-face visits will follow once COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
The virtual visits will enable children and young people to share their thoughts about how things are going at their placement, from what they like and don’t like about living there, to how their lives have been affected by COVID-19.
“We’re going directly to the voice of young people to find out what life is like for them in residential care,” Principal Advocate Merike Mannik said. “The real benefits of running the virtual visits with children and young people is that their voice is up front and centre.”
“While these virtual meetings will give us the voice of the child, they will also help our advocates to build relationships with children and young people, as well as increasing the profile of our office and the work we do,” Merike said.
“Prior to COVID-19 we had planned to personally visit residential facilities once we had conducted a review of records and staff surveys. However, over the last few months we have re-assessed how we want the program to run, with the main focus being hearing the voices of children and young people. With the additional stresses created in young people’s lives from the pandemic we believed it was vital that we commence visits sooner rather than later and connect with children and young people online, with the plan to meet with them face-to-face in the future,” Merike said.
Choosing which residences to visit will combine a random selection and a more targeted approach based on feedback from young people, the Department for Child Protection and non-government service providers.
Children and young people will be provided with information about the visit and can decide whether or not they would like to participate. There is also the option for them to call our office, before or after the visit, to raise any private or sensitive matters.
If there are children and young people living in a residential facility who you think would particularly benefit from a virtual visit by one of our advocates, please let us know the name of the facility by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.