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This is what we think: The perspectives of care-experienced young people on principles of care

In September 2023, Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, in collaboration with a group of expert academics and clinicians, developed five principles of care for children with complex needs and circumstances.

Today we are publishing a report presenting the thoughts and views on these principles from 13 young people who are either in care or care-experienced. It presents a range of first-hand experiences offering vital insight and evidence.

Led by a team of brilliant and inspiring young volunteers this creative collaboration with Somerset Council shines a spotlight on the experiences of those who are living in care, including those who are subject to deprivation of liberty orders.

The five principles of care were developed to support improvements in the care of children and young people experiencing complex needs and circumstances – those with multiple, overlapping difficulties, and including those who are deprived of their liberty due to concerns about their well-being, many of whom are currently placed in unregulated settings because nowhere else is available. We are encouraged that the young people who took part in this project endorsed these key principles of care – but their experiences provide further evidence that there is a long way to go before they become a reality.

Leon Isaac, the lead volunteer on the project says

“I was the lead volunteer on this project and was on a deprivation of liberty order from 2019 to 2022.

The project gave me an opportunity to get my opinion across – I never could when I had a deprivation of liberty order. It was a really bad experience for me. I didn’t have a chance to advocate for myself or talk to someone to advocate on my behalf. I didn’t even know I was on a deprivation of liberty order until six months after the order was put in place. I also wanted to help other young people share their stories. I can sympathise with everyone who took part because I’ve been through similar things myself.

I’m proud to have been involved in this project. I hope that the things we’ve said about our experiences might lead to change, like if young people going into emergency care could get suitcases and bags for their belongings instead of a bin bag. That would be a massive achievement.

This report is an important read for judges and social workers and anyone else who is involved in the decision-making process that a young person should be subjected to a deprivation of liberty order. It will give them better knowledge and understanding of how young people are treated differently to those in the regular social care system – people’s behaviour changes. Giving young people more of a say and changing how you act towards them could help them to have a better experience.”


Listen to short audio clips from the care-experienced young people and download the report here

Read more about the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory’s’ five principles of care report here

Read more about the rise in deprivation of liberty orders here