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Guidance to Ensure The Voice of The Child is Heard


The views of children and their families are essential to good practice in social care. Everyone working with children and families in Cumbria must seek the voice of the child and reflect and respond to it in all aspects of the work. This is rooted in legislation and good practice.

This chapter was added in August 2015.


  1. Introduction
  2. Where to Reflect the Voice of the Child
  3. How to Seek the Views of Children
  4. Recording
  5. Using Tools
  6. Examples of Tools

    Further Information

1. Introduction

Our aim should be to share and practice positive approaches to effective communication & listening through active learning. We are committed to communicate clearly, purposefully and honestly with children & young people.

We should remember to consider identity, diversity, culture, language, disability, delayed speech, low confidence & trust.

Everyone who works with children and young people in Cumbria should commit to seeking and recording the voice of the child with every child they work with.

2. Where to Reflect the Voice of the Child

  • Referrals;
  • Assessments;
  • Support provision;
  • Child In Need, Child Protection and LAC Care Plans;
  • Court statements and care plans;
  • Supervision records;
  • Fostering & adoption records;
  • Residential records;
  • Family Support records;
  • Planning for a review or meeting.

3. How to Seek the Views of Children

The voice of children must be recorded and taken into account no matter what their age or ability to communicate directly.

This can be done by:

  • Direct engagement;
  • Observation;
  • Discussion with parents, family members, carers or agencies;
  • Analysis of information held to consider what the impact might be on the child.

A good start is to explain your own role, to listen openly and to seek the voice of the child without advising or judging.

Remember to consider explaining to parents and carers in advance and seek consent where necessary.

There are some guides and leaflets to give to parents and young people to assist with explanations and participation. It is can be helpful to give people some written material to take away and consider and then offer another opportunity to talk again later.

 (See ‘Other sources of support’ on the Cumbria SCP Website).

4. Recording

This should be embedded in practice and in records and should be updated regularly particularly when circumstances change for the child or there is a change of plan. We should record the voice of the child and for the child – for the current plan to be evidence based and for the future – children should be able to access a good record later in their lives. The voice of the child should be recorded within documents and exemplars in the electronic records. They can also be attached or scanned into records where the child has written their own views or tools have been used which are handwritten or completed by the child.

5. Using Tools

Many workers use tools to enable them to seek the views of children or to aid participation in enabling children to draw or write their views more freely than in open conversation.

Useful examples are available to assist workers but not intended to replace other good practice. Workers should plan ahead and adapt tools to suit particular children & young people or circumstances. There are no right answers to how to do this, just opportunities in the available tools and resources such as books, dolls & figures, drawing materials, and games.

A wide range of tools is available to encourage us all and help with direct work. Please take care and exercise professional judgement as they do not fit all children or all circumstances. They are intended as a guide and can be adapted for individual use. There are many more available and in use. Please share what you use yourself among teams and services.

6. Examples of Tools

Three houses tool, and 3 houses worksheet

This takes the 3 assessment questions from the Signs of Safety Model – what are we worried about/what is working well/what needs to happen – and puts them in the 3 houses drawn to engage children in filling in their worries/good things/dreams.

Pen Picture

This is a basic sheet to capture the views of children in short encounters or assessments and should be used as a starter not as an end in itself. It contains just a few questions to assist children to express their views. It can be completed by or with a parent or carer or based on observation and behaviour where a child is unable to communicate or too young to do so.

All about me My Plan

This is detailed and useful for seeking views of looked after children or those with Child Protection or Child In Need Plans.

  • On my desert island – three islands;
  • How do you feel today?
  • Feelings – the alien;
  • Graffiti Wall;
  • I don’t like it when…
  • A Risky Business;
  • Why did I go into care?
  • My Fabulous Dream;
  • The Bag of Worries;
  • The Story of the Worry Ball;
  • Review - When? Where? Who? What will we talk about?
  • Getting to know you;
  • It’s My Life!
  • Time Line with Children & Young People relating to Issues of Neglect + pictorials – choose some of the pictures or find your own to suit a particular child – or use the idea for neglect and to ask the child to tell you about a day in their life;
  • The Change Balloons – balloons can also be used to represent people.

CAPTION: further information

Further Information

Children Act 1989 s1(3)(a)
the ascertainable wishes & feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age & understanding)

The Munro Review of Child Protection: Final Report, A child-centered system (2011)

Working Together to Safeguard Children

Learning from Serious Case Reviews