Authorities should be accountable to children for decisions and actions that affect their lives.
All staff working to support children in a social care context will have responsibilities and take decisions and actions that impact children. As corporate parents, these are statutory duties, and decisions must be made in a child’s best interest. Without clear lines of accountability and adequate information provided to children on why these decisions have been made, some children and their families can be left feeling disempowered.
Children should be provided with information and given access to procedures which enable them to question and challenge decisions that have been taken, should they wish to. For this to be effective, services need to be transparent and provide reasons for their decisions and actions. Wherever possible these should be linked to children’s rights. To obtain any right a child must know they are entitled to it and be able to actively claim it, including when making a complaint or challenging decisions and actions. Accountability means holding decision-makers to account, which requires information and data on performance against children’s rights standards.
Practical ways for services to put the principle of accountability into practice
- Provide opportunities for senior management and, in local authorities, cabinet members to be scrutinised by children.
- Ensure clear lines of accountability are in place in regards to decision making. Ensure this can be communicated to children if required;
- Develop good feedback loops with children and build these into service-wide expectations.
- Inform children and young people how their views and preferences have been taken into account
- Take children’s complaints seriously.