Children in care oppose media access to family courts, says children’s rights director

Only half of children in care trust the court system to make the right decision about their lives, the children’s rights director has found.

The study, which included a survey of 58 children and a further 67 children in discussion sessions, also found that the three main worries for children in care were whether the court’s decisions about their future were right for them; people and strangers hearing about their private lives; and not being able to give the right answers to important questions in front of a court.

Confidentiality was also a concern for children. In the survey, 46 children said media and members of the public should not be allowed into the courts when children’s cases are heard.

Children’s rights director Roger Morgan said: “Decisions made about children in court are life changing. This report is vitally important as it enables children in care to get their views across to the family justice review panel.

“It is worrying that the experience of many children was that they had not known, or felt they had a say in, what was happening to them. To meet the children’s concerns, more needs to be done to talk directly with children, make sure they understand what is going on and take their views into account.”

The children suggested that being given more information, such as having someone explain why decisions have been made, would help.

When surveyed, 46 children felt that professionals working with children were the best people to take the important decisions about them. Social workers, parents and advocates were all cited as people who could make decisions for them.

For the report children were asked questions based on the main points being examined by the family justice review, which is expected to report in the spring.