Laura Sharman 03 October 2019

Children’s voices missing from care records, study warns

The voices of children and young people are missing from their social care records causing significant distress and upset, research has warned today.

The project, led by UCL with the Care Leaver’s Association and Family Action, found that despite providing a valuable source of memory and identity for care leavers, many local authorities are failing to recognise the importance and value of effective recordkeeping.

It also found many records have been heavily censored to remove ‘third party information’ and this can make care leavers feel dehumanised and powerless.

Professor Elizabeth Shepherd, UCL Information Studies, said: ‘Social care records are a vital resource for memory-making and identity for adults who were in care as children. For many they contain the answers to critical questions about what happened to them and why.

‘Gaps in someone’s personal narrative can be deeply traumatic, leaving them with feelings of blame and a lack of self-worth.’

Care leaver, John-george, explained: 'One of the most profound things for me about the file, and it screams the loudest, is my lack of voice. And I just appear, my scrawled out writing, on like page 52. The project recommends that records should be co-created with all those involved in a child’s care and include the voices of children themselves. Best practice for records create and management should also be established, and new standards for access should be developed.

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