As the Children's Rights Director the law gives me the duty to ask children and young people in care, receiving social care support, or living away from home in residential schools or colleges, for their views about their rights, their welfare and how they are looked after in England. My report, '100 days in care' out yesterday gives those children a voice by documenting their lives.
That is essentially what makes this report different. It simply contains 100 diary entries by children and young people, describing, their day to day life in their own words. As well as asking children and young people for their views and publishing what they tell us, with my team I also give advice on children's views, rights and welfare to Her Majesty's Chief Inspector at Ofsted, and to the government. I also have a duty to raise issues I think are important about the rights and welfare of children.
I believe this report captures children's views, thoughts and experiences very eloquently. We have not added anything to their entries and have not made any comments of our own on what the children and young people themselves wrote for us. This is a very important point, as with all my reports and in particular this one, we set out what children themselves have told us, not my views or those of our team. In this way we can achieve a greater depth of understanding and insight into the lives of those living in care.
When reading the diary entries it is clear there are some recurring themes, such as relationships between children, the experience of living in a group and the importance of staff support. One young person shares her thoughts and experiences on entering the world of work after living in care.
Having set routines and meal times were important to children as well as the need to have someone to talk to. Some of those in care wrote about the impact it had on their lives and some offered advice to other children if they ever found themselves being placed in care.
One 11-year-old child said: "You're allowed to make calls to your social worker but only if it is urgent not about your foster carer not letting you buy sweets or something like that."
She went on to say:
"You may realise when you move to somewhere where they have a young daughter or son they might not like you because they are jealous of you getting more attention or that you have entered their house. Don't think that you are unwelcome or that they hate you."
In early 2011 we asked children and young people to volunteer by keeping a diary for a week for this report. 23 children agreed and this is their report on their own lives told through 100 of the diary entries they sent to us.
Some of the diary entries in this report were from care leavers, disabled children, children living at home with social care support, children living in children's homes, secure units, foster care, residential special schools or were borders in boarding schools. I and my team are very grateful to them for sharing their personal and thought provoking diaries with us. These entries bring to life so many of the different experiences children have being in care whilst also highlighting the shared anxieties they have in common.
You can find a link to the full report at: www.ofsted.gov.uk