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Person-centred and -led working practice within CASWA's Children & Young People's Service


Recently, our Children & Young People’s Team sat down to reflect on their working practice as domestic abuse specialists who work with children and young people. For those who don’t know – CASWA has a service and a team dedicated to working with children & young people. We are a small team who deliver support across Caithness and Sutherland to children and young people who have experienced domestic abuse. We provide support to a wide age-range of children and young people from pre-school to 18 years of age (if still in education).

Across CASWA we adopt reflective working practice – this is really important and healthy as it helps us to monitor and evaluate the service that we deliver as a whole, as well as our own individual working practice. It enables us to learn, grow, be accountable and identify areas for development as domestic abuse specialists to ensure we are providing the best possible support to the people that we work with. We pride ourselves on delivering a person-centred and –led service and this was the focus of our reflective activity.

A person-centred and -led service for children and young people essentially means that children and young people access our service voluntarily (i.e. they actively choose to be supported by our service) and the support that they receive is delivered at a pace and in a way that is right for them, taking their age, stage and developmental needs into consideration and working with them for as long as they need and want support. Importantly, we consider ourselves not as the 'drivers' of their support, but the 'passengers'. We work alongside children and young people throughout their journey of support, supporting them to identify, communicate and work towards their support needs and ensure that support remains relevant to them as unique individuals throughout their time with CASWA. We work with empowerment, safety and non-judgemental practice at the core of our work.

As a team, we sat down together to brainstorm and reflect on person-centred and person-led working practice – what it means, why it is important and what it actually looks like in real world practice. It can be really valuable tool in reflective practice to bring things back to basics and consider what and why questions. We thought we’d give you a flavour of how our brainstorming went:

Why is person-centred and person-led working practice important to our work with children and young people?

  • It puts children and young people first
  • It better meets their own, unique needs
  • It ensures their time in support is time that is just for them
  • It conveys key messages to children and young people – “I am unique”, “I matter”, “I am important”, “I am heard”
  • It promotes children and young people’s feelings of being valued, heard and important
  • It provides them with a trusted adult who they can build a support relationship with who will advocate for them
  • It is in children and young people’s best interests
  • It supports development of a sense of self / knowledge in who they are
  • It improves self-esteem and confidence
  • It supports children and young people to learn how to use their voice and advocate for their needs
  • It helps to address and improve safety and wellbeing
  • It promotes recovery of trauma (and reduces risk of re-traumatisation)
  • It encourages and models respect and boundaries
  • It reduces barriers
  • It does not add any further control and power dynamic to their lives
  • It promotes an understanding of their rights

What does it look like in practice?

  • Acceptance, compassion, authenticity and empathy
  • Empowerment at its core
  • Excellent communication skills - active listening, clear and transparent about actions
  • Emotional intelligence skills – non-verbal cues, etc
  • Creating a safe space through patience and building trusting, respectful relationships and non-judgemental practice
  • Flexibility and willingness to change session and support plans in line with needs
  • Trauma-informed
  • Space and time
  • Respecting and setting boundaries
  • Sensitive, but accountable
  • Age, stage and developmentally appropriate
  • Seeing children and young people as unique individuals
  • Being mindful that support is about them NOT us – being mindful that we are passengers on support journeys
  • No/limited “box ticking” exercises
  • Reflective and exploratory
  • Lots of choice around how they engage in support
  • Self-awareness
  • Responsive to diverse, current, changeable needs
  • Utilising supports available to us as practitioners
  • Training, development and supervision
  • Being mindful of the role we play in their lives
  • Encourage and celebrate with them
  • Sign-posting where other services may better meet their needs
  • Advocating for them or supporting them to advocate for themselves
  • Working holistically with other services

To find out more about CASWA's Children & Young People's Service, visit their page on our website: CASWA's CYP Service