What do we mean by ‘the child’s voice’ and the ‘child’s lived experience’?
When we use the term ‘the child’s voice’ we not only refer to what children say directly, but rather to many ways that children communicate with us, including both verbal and nonverbal communication. It means more than seeking their views, which could just mean the child saying what they want, rather than really being involved in what happens.
Children and young people should have the opportunity to describe things from their point of view. They should be continually involved, and have information fed back to them in a way that they can understand. There should always be evidence that their voice has influenced the decisions that professionals have made.
Key points to gathering the voice of the child are:
- Seeking to understand their story
- Ensuring their views are advocated for
- Picking up on nonverbal cues
- Using our power to influence outcomes on their behalf
- Challenging the use of single stories.
The child’s lived experience means seeing and understanding their experiences from their point of view.