Thomas, Nigel and Percy-Smith, Barry (2012) ‘It's about changing services and building relationships’: evaluating the development of Children in Care Councils. Child & Family Social Work, 17 (4). pp. 487-496. ISSN 1356-7500

The introduction of Children in Care Councils under the Care Matters reforms in England set a challenge for local authorities to find effective ways by which children in care could contribute their views to the planning and provision of services. This paper discusses a review of progress across London which combined a survey of boroughs with focus group discussions with young people, local authority staff and elected members. The research found that considerable progress had been made in that virtually all boroughs had some mechanism for representing children in care, and that staff and young people were proud of their achievements. However, major challenges remain – to embed a culture of participation in services, to ensure continuity, to reach all children including the many placed ‘out of borough’ and to defend what has been achieved in the face of severe cuts in public spending. The paper highlights a tension between empowering young people and meeting targets as corporate parents. The results support other research pointing to the need for a better understanding of the relationship between participation in governance and participation grounded in ordinary life.

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