IRISS Insights 34 - Social workers' communication with children

Communication with children and young people can take many forms including: direct talk, listening, writing, touch, facial expressions and body language, signing, and using specialist tools or techniques. Social workers communicate with children and young people for a range of reasons. They communicate directly with children and young people to learn more about them and their families’ circumstances. They also communicate with children and young people to ascertain their views about decisions and matters that affect their lives. Put simply, social workers have to be able to connect, engage, support, talk and listen to children and young people if they are going to make a positive difference in their lives.

This review presents what research tells us about social workers' communication with children and young people in everyday practice.

It also introduces key findings from the TLC project - an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded, UK-wide study of social workers' communication with children and young people (2013-16).

Key points

  • Communication with children and young people is at the heart of child and family social work
  • Communication involves social workers using a range of methods and techniques like touch, play, signing, body language, writing, drawing, activities, using symbols and other specialist tools to engage and communicate with children and young people
  • Social workers need to use their skills sensitively and creatively to make spaces for communication with children and young people
  • Research shows how the context, organisation and systems of social work can impact negatively on the ways in which social workers engage and communicate with children and young people
  • The relationship between children, young people and their social workers is more important than communication itself

Read and download

www.iriss.org.uk/resources/insights/social-workers-communication-children-and-young-people-practice

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