Children's Rights and Participation (RAP)
The Rights and Participation Service (RAP) aims to OPTIMISE and EMPOWER children and young people’s involvement in both strategic and local decisions that affect their lives. We challenge and champion children and young people’s rights to ensure that when decisions are made they are involved, consulted and listened to.
- RAP provides advocacy to Birmingham’s children in care and care leavers.
- RAP provides advocacy visits to all children’s homes in Birmingham.
- RAP supports and facilitates Birmingham's Children in Care Council.
- RAP supports and facilitates Birmingham’s UK Youth Parliament young people.
The purpose of the Rights and Participation service is to:
- Develop a range of opportunities for children and young people to become involved in consultation and decision-making processes across all agencies and services.
- Ensure that the Local Authority fulfils its obligations to establish an effective and representative Children in Care Council, in line with statutory requirements.
- Ensure that children in care and care leavers have access to a children’s rights and advocacy service that supports the promotion of better outcomes and the improvement of services.
Children’s Rights and Advocacy
On 16 December 1991, the United Kingdom adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This means that legally children and young people must be treated fairly.
Article 12 states that children have the right to say what they think should happen when adults are making decisions that affect them and to have their opinions taken into account
Birmingham City Council applies these rights in its work with children, young people and families. Under the Children Act 1989 and the Adoption and Children Act 2002 local authorities have a statutory responsibility to provide all children in care and care leavers with access to an advocate. The Rights and Participation advocates also adhere to the National Advocacy Standards 2002 to ensure that children and young people are better safeguarded and supported within a national framework.
An advocate from the Rights and Participation service can offer any child or young person in care or a care leaver:
- advice on what your rights are and help you decide how they may be able to help you;
- support you to ensure people listen to your wishes and feelings;
- attend meetings with you or on your behalf, including reviews, meetings with your school and social worker;
- support you to have your say about decisions that affect you;
- give you information about other services or organizations that may be useful to you; and
- support you to make a complaint or compliment.
You have the right to know:
- why you are living away from home;
- what plans are being made for you;
- what Birmingham City Council has written about you on its files;
- that you will be given somewhere safe to live; and
- what you can expect from Birmingham City Council as your corporate parent
Children’s Homes visitsAs well as individual advocacy, our advocates will visit homes where Birmingham children are living. The advocates also work closely with the Reg 33 inspectors, ensuring that any issues children raise are dealt with in an appropriate and timely manner.
How to access the advocacy serviceAs long as you are in care or a care leaver you can contact the Rights and Participation service and request an advocate. This can be done by you, or on your behalf by a social worker, foster carer, teacher or anyone who knows you. The service is confidential and all advocates are trained to a national standard to ensure they can offer you the best service.
You can contact the service by phone: 0121 303 7217
Mind of My Own (MOMO)
What is MOMO?
MOMO helps young people to express their views to their care team. They can use it to prepare for meetings, request a change to their care or to ask for a problem to be sorted out. It works by prompting them to enter their views, structuring what they say into a statement, then delivering the statement to their care team or other trusted adult.
MOMO works on both computers and mobile devices so that young people don't have to have a smartphone or tablet to use it. Read this story and learn more about how to use it with them.
Say hello to Sarah
She’s a 36 year old social worker who loves her demanding job. Every day she does her best to keep up with her young peoples' needs and manage her frustration at the lack of time she has available to spend with them.
Here’s what’s happening
Sarah’s team has introduced MOMO and she’s been asked by her manager to introduce the app to young people so that they know she'd like them to use it.
Sarah’s first reaction is ‘not another new initiative’. She’d have liked to know about it sooner. She also feels a little technologically challenged and unsure about how to introduce it to young people.
However, MOMO also sounds like it might be useful for some of the young people she knows. She thinks of Rob, who is 16 and doesn’t talk much but is really into computers, and of Elly who is 14 and regularly sends her long, unhappy text messages.
What Sarah did next
So Sarah tries the MOMO app out for herself, on her work computer. It takes her 4 minutes to create a fictional statement of views and to send it to her own email address.
A week later she receives a statement from Jamie, another of her young people. He used MOMO on his computer, without her help, to request a change to his care. The statement arrived in her email inbox as a pdf. Jamie’s statement of views was clear and easy to understand because MOMO had structured it for him. It helped Sarah understand what Jamie wanted to talk about at their next meeting. It felt better than getting a long text message and was easy to attach as a file on Jamie’s electronic case records.
If you have any questions, contact Lisa Carter: Lisa.Carter@birmingham.gov.uk