Action 2.5.1 – First Government Strategy on children and young people's participation in decision-making

Action 2.5.1 – First Government Strategy on children and young people's participation in decision-making

 

Commitment Completion Template

Action 2.5.1 – Develop, finalise and publish the first Government Strategy on children and young people's participation in decision-making.

Lead implementing agency

Department of Children & Youth Affairs

Name of responsible person from implementing agency

Anne O’Donnell

Title, Department

Head of Participation Unit, Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Email

Anne_ODonnell@dcya.gov.ie

Phone

+353 1 6473016

Other actors involved

Government

Department of Education and Skills

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Department of Health

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Education and Training Boards

Health Information and Quality Authority

Health Service Executive

Housing Authorities

HSE, Mental Health Services

Local Authorities

Local Government Management Authority

Mental Health Commission

National Council for Special Education

National Educational Psychological Service,

National Transport Authority

The Teaching Council

Tusla – Child and Family Agency

 

CSOs, private sector, working groups, multilaterals

Children and Young People’s Services Committees

Children’s Mental Health Coalition

Comhairle na nÓg

Drug and Alcohol Task Forces

Empowering People in Care (EPIC)

Family Mediation Service

Headstrong Youth Advisory Panel

Healthy Ireland Council

Legal Aid Board

Local Community Development Committee

Rural Transport Network

Sports Partnerships

The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning

Union of Students in Ireland

 

Main Objective

Develop, finalise and publish the first Government Strategy on children and young people's participation in decision making

Brief Description of Commitment

(140 character limit)

Developing strategies, resources, guidance and training to enable appropriate participation by children and young people in decision making.

Relevance

Briefly describe the way

in which this commitment

is relevant to further advancing OGP values

of access to information, public accountability, civic participation, and technology and innovation for openness and accountability. (A

detailed description of these values is available in the OGP

Values Guidance Note.)

This commitment addresses the grand challenges of: improving public services; and increasing public integrity; and more effectively managing public resources. It is relevant to the advancement of transparency, accountability and public participation. `

 

The National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-making (http://www.dcya.gov.ie/docs/national-strategy-on-children-and-young-people-s-participation-in-decision-making/3456.htm) builds on the achievements and challenges of the National Children’s Strategy by further embedding effective, meaningful and systematic participation by children and young people in decision-making on issues that affect them in all aspects of their lives.

 

There is a growing body of evidence on the benefits of participation by children and young people in decision-making across a range of measures, including improved services, policies, research, active citizenship and, most importantly, improvements for children themselves and for society generally.

 

Inclusion of children and young people in decision-making can promote children’s protection, improve their confidence, communication skills and ability to negotiate, network and make judgements.

 

There is also strong evidence that participation by children and young people in decision-making can support active citizenship and social inclusion at an early stage and there is general agreement that this is crucial to building and sustaining a healthy society. Young people’s engagement with social media in new social movements and global forms of activism is evidence that they take their citizenship very seriously and are engaged actively on issues of importance to them, using a space that is owned and created by them.

 

In education, effective and meaningful participation of children and young people has been shown to be beneficial to children and young people, and to schools. Students’ participation generally, and in student councils more particularly, can improve academic standards, reduce rates of early school-leaving, improve discipline and facilitate students in acquiring communication, planning and organisational skills.

 

Improved services are among the most measurable benefits of children and young people’s participation in decision-making. Recent studies indicate that using children’s views in the development and evaluation of healthcare service provision can have a significant influence on health outcomes and reduce healthcare usage.  

Ambition

Briefly describe the intended policy results of the commitment and how it will either make government more open or improve government through more openness.

Children and young people live their lives at home, in communities, in childcare, in schools and other education settings, in clubs and organisations. Some children and young people have experience of growing up in care, living with disabilities, being in detention or interacting with the health, mental health, child protection or homelessness services. Children and young people’s voices should be heard in all of these significant settings and they should be facilitated to be active participants in decisions that affect them, in accordance with their age and maturity. It is a key priority of this strategy that seldom-heard children and young people are enabled to take part in decision-making and this is particularly critical in the case of children living in the care of the State or in receipt of child protection and welfare services.

 

Accordingly, the priority objectives in this strategy are that:

1.            Children and young people will have a voice in decisions made in their local communities.

2.            Children and young people will have a voice in decision-making in early education, schools and the wider formal and non-formal education systems.

3.            Children and young people will have a voice in decisions that affect their health and well-being, including on the health and social services delivered to them.

4.            Children and young people will have a voice in the Courts and legal system.

 

The actions outlined in this strategy aim to address the challenges that exist in children and young people being enabled to participate appropriately in decision-making. The use of age-appropriate methods is particularly critical in involving very young children in decision-making. There is a growing body of evidence and good practice on creative methods for involving this age group effectively in decision-making.  These methods are already being used by some early education practitioners in Ireland. In addressing these challenges, the strategy contains a series of additional objectives, which include the following objectives:

 

Objective 5: Promoting effective leadership to champion and promote participation of children and young people.

National leadership on participation will be strengthened through the establishment of the DCYA Children and Young People’s Participation Hub, which is one of the key actions in this Strategy (page 31 in Strategy). The hub will support Government departments and other organisations to develop the leadership and culture required to implement the strategy’s actions effectively.

 

Organisational change is essential to ensuring meaningful participation by children and young people in decisions that affect them. Participation must be embedded within the infrastructure of an organisation and progress beyond one-off, discrete activities, to become an ongoing embedded process.

 

Effective participation demands a whole-systems approach, combining four key elements, namely:

  • Culture: The ethos of an organisation, shared by all staff and service users, which demonstrates a commitment to participation.
  • Structure: The planning, development and resourcing of participation evident in an organisation’s infrastructure.
  • Practice: The ways of working, methods for involvement, skills and knowledge that enable children and young people to become involved.
  • Review: The monitoring and evaluation systems that enable an organisation to evidence change effected by children and young people’s participation.

This strategy proposes a range of measures to achieve a whole-systems approach to participation:

  • increased participation training for individuals and organisations;
  • capacity-building;
  • awareness-raising;
  • skills training for young people and adults;
  • the adoption of participation practice standards;
  • opportunities for practitioners and organisations to network and share information about participation practice;
  • embedding a culture of participation within organisations, whereby young people feel that they are valued, listened to and play an important role in influencing decisions that affect their lives.

Organisational culture and strong leadership are particularly critical in ensuring the involvement of seldom-heard children and young people in decision-making. A precondition for the meaningful, effective and sustainable participation of seldom-heard young people is an appropriate organisational infrastructure, including a cultural climate that values inclusiveness, empowerment and participation.

 

Objective 6: Development of education and training for professionals working with and on behalf of children and young people.

Training for professionals is also critical to participation by children and young people in decision-making. Strategies to give children a voice will only work if there are adults willing to listen to them.

Actions in the present Strategy address the training of professionals and others who work with and on behalf of children and young people. The DCYA Children and Young People’s Participation Hub will form partnerships with third-level and further education institutions to oversee development of education on children’s rights (including participation in decision-making) for professionals who work with and on behalf of children and young people.

 

Objective 7: Mainstreaming the participation of children and young people in the development of policy, legislation and research.

The right of children and young people to a voice in decisions that affect their lives is Government policy since 2000. Since that time, children and young people have been involved in the development of a number of significant pieces of national policy, legislation and research. Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People, 2014-2020 also commits to children and young people having a voice in decisions that affect their lives across all five outcome areas of the Policy Framework. Actions in the present strategy commit Government departments and agencies and other stakeholders to involve children and young people in the development of policies, legislation and research.

 

Completion level

Not started / Limited

Substantial

Completed

 

 

x

Description of the results Include specific activities within the reporting period (first

or second year of the action plan) and, wherever possible, please indicate whether there has been evidence of members of the public using the commitment or whether the commitment has had an effect.

The original aim was that the strategy would be published in 2014, with ongoing work over the period 2014-2020 and good progress made by mid-2016. The first National Participation Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in decision making 2015-2020 (http://www.dcya.gov.ie/docs/national-strategy-on-children-and-young-people-s-participation-in-decision-making/3456.htm) was published in June 2015. The Strategy includes an Action Plan which was developed following in-depth bilateral meetings with Government departments and agencies, with non-government stakeholders and with children and young people involved in the implementation of Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures (http://www.dcya.gov.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=3146&ad=1).

 

The implementation of the actions in the action plan will be monitored under the mechanisms established for monitoring the progress of the national framework strategy, Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures.

 

A practical guide aimed at a wide range of professionals who want to find ways to enable marginalised or disadvantaged children and young people to have a say in decision-making at local and national level has been published (http://www.dcya.gov.ie/docs/A_Practical_guide_to_Including_Seldomheard_Children_&_Yo/3536.htm) with the Participation Strategy. The Toolkit was developed to provide: information for managers of organisations; and a manual for practitioners on how to include ‘seldom-heard’ children and young people in organisations and events, and how to make the organisation relevant for seldom-heard children and young people.

 

Work has commenced on the development of the Participation Hub. An online database of documents and online resources on the theory and practice of children and young people’s participation in decision-making is being compiled and will be made available.  A scoping exercise to explore the needs of stakeholders and inform the establishment of the Participation Hub has also been commissioned and will be complete in Q3.

End date

2020

Next steps

Establishment of a Children and Young People’s Participation Hub is the key priority action for the DCYA in the Action Plan accompanying the strategy. This hub will be the national centre of excellence on children and young people’s participation and will provide information, guidance and practical support to Government departments and agencies in delivering commitments outlined in this strategy’s Action Plan. It will also become a key driver in supporting the implementation of this strategy and Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures. To achieve this, the hub will champion and promote participation, create resources and training materials, conduct training, document and disseminate learning and establish an online children’s participation database. It will also form partnerships with third-level and adult education institutions to oversee development of education on children’s rights (including participation in decision-making) for professionals who work with and on behalf of children and young people.

 

The vision for the Participation Hub includes the establishment by the DCYA of strategic formal partnerships with organisations and initiatives in the statutory and non-statutory sectors to develop and document innovative best practice in children and young people’s participation in decision-making. The hub will involve children and young people appropriately in its development and operation.

Additional information (Description on what remains to be achieved

and any risks or challenges to implementing the commitment.)

 

 

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