Listening and facilitating all forms of communication: disabled children and young people in residential care in England

Anita Franklin*, Sarah Goff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Little research has been undertaken into how children with complex communication needs living in residential care are encouraged to express their views, be involved in decision-making, and importantly, make it known when they are unhappy. This group are often placed a long distance from home and can be some of the most vulnerable children in the care system. Ensuring they have access to a communication method, people who understand their communication and support to empower them to grow their capacity is not only a right and a safeguarding mechanism, it is also important in preparation for adulthood and for leaving care. This unique paper reports on the English arm of a European project, which aimed to devise the first international monitoring system to prevent abuse of disabled children in residential settings. Trained professionals examined how disabled children were heard, and encouraged to be involved in decision-making within 10 case-study residential settings. To aid international development of good practice, this paper focuses on positive aspects of practice. Examples are used to illustrate how all forms of communication can be encouraged and used positively to both protect and empower disabled children in residential care. Implications for practice are presented to support practitioners to create positive communication environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-111
Number of pages13
Journal Child Care in Practice
Issue number1
Early online date21 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019


  • Abuse
  • Care
  • Children
  • Communication
  • Disability
  • Protection
  • Residential
  • Rights


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