This library is a comprehensive collection of national and international good practice, policy, legal and academic publications, reports and resources on children and young people’s participation in decision-making.
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Embedding a children’s rights perspective in policy and decision-making
This policy memo provides an overview of the extent to which children’s rights are promoted and taken into account in policies and practice. The memo considers policy frameworks at national level as well as those at EU level. It also discusses ways in which policies and wider initiatives facilitate children’s participation in decisions about their future.
Children’s Participation in Decision-making
Children have the right to express their views and to have those views considered, according to their age and understanding. Public bodies and organisations that work with children have a responsibility to respect that right. However, for organisations that have never engaged with children in their decision-making processes, this can seem like a daunting task. The OCO has an obligation under the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002 to hear children’s views and highlight issues that are of concern to them. Since 2004 the OCO has promoted children’s right to be heard and provided children with opportunities to express their views to us and to the government, departments, agencies and organisations that make decisions about laws, policies, services and practices that affect them. We do this in a number of ways, including through dedicated projects that bring children affected by issues together to share their views and concerns, surveys and listening to children in our complaints process. Drawing on our experience in children’s participation, these guidelines outline some of the key things to consider when seeking to hear the views of children. The guidelines also provide signposts to additional resources where more details can be found. We hope that this guide provides you with useful advice and helps you get started on the very worthwhile journey towards including children and young people in the decision-making process in your organisation.
Perils of perspective: Identifying adult confidence in the child’s capacity, autonomy, power and agency (CAPA) in readiness for voice-inclusive practice
In recent years, children’s voice initiatives in education have gained increased recognition and application. However, while the concept of child and student ‘voice’ is not new, there remains a high level of inconsistency in how voice-focused initiatives are implemented across education sectors. Not all voice initiatives are successful, mainly because such initiatives are not always willingly adopted by the adults directly responsible for the education of children. If authentic voice-inclusive practice is to occur, greater recognition of the impact an adult’s conceptualisation of children has on their willingness and ability to embrace voice-inclusive practice needs to take place. Understanding the key informants that adults draw upon to conceptualise children and their capabilities can assist educational strategists in identifying adult readiness for authentic and effective Voice-Inclusive Practice. Voice-inclusive practice is defined as actions and processes that incorporate children’s perspectives and actively engage with children on matters that affect them. This paper presents a conceptual model CAPA (capacity, autonomy, power and agency) representing the subjective designations adults place on the child that informs the application of sustained voice-inclusive practice and offers a ‘pre-voice’ exploration of an individual’s likelihood of engaging in voice-inclusive practice.
Mid-Term Review and Phase Two Action Plan of the National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-Making, 2015-2020
The Strategy builds on the infrastructure for children’s participation already established by my Department through the Comhairle na nÓg and Local Authority structures. This crossgovernment action plan strengthens the voice of children and young people in their local communities, in formal and informal education settings, in health and social services and in the national context of government decision-making.
Space, Voice, Audience and Influence: The Lundy Model of Participation (2007) in Child Welfare Practice
According to Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, children and young people have a legal right to have their views heard and acted upon as appropriate. The Lundy model of participation (2007) was developed to aid practitioners to meaningfully and effectively implement a child’s right to participate by focusing attention on the distinct but interrelated elements of Article 12. While Lundy’s conceptualisation has been widely welcomed in research, policy and practice, there is a dearth of examples in the literature regarding how the concepts of space, voice, audience and influence can be operationalised. The purpose of this article is to share examples of how practitioners working in Ireland’s child protection and welfare services implement these concepts in practice. Drawing on practitioners’ personal testimonies and a selection of reports published by Ireland’s social care inspectorate, it sets out illustrative examples of approaches taken by professionals when seeking to create a safe and inclusive space for children and young people to express a view, approaches to supporting them to express that view and to ensuring it is listened to and acted upon as appropriate.
Children and Young People’s Participation in the Community in Ireland: Experiences and Issues’
This paper presents the findings of research into children and young people’s experiences of participating in their communities in Ireland. Using a social and relational understanding of participation, the research found that children and young people are engaged in a wide range of activities in their communities. They are however often misunderstood in the community and have limited opportunities for participation in decisions affecting them. Despite these problems, they report positive experiences of participating in youth clubs and organisations, where their participation is supported by adults. The paper discusses the implications of these findings for research, public policy and community.
Moving Beyond Youth Voice
This study combines research documenting the benefits of positive relationships between youth and caring adults on a young person’s positive development with studies on youth voice to examine the mechanisms through which participation in youth programs contributes to positive developmental outcomes. Specifically, the study explores whether youth’s perceived quality relationships with adults contribute to strengthening of youth voice and in turn how the two combine to affect youth’s perception of the benefits of program participation. The findings derived from survey data regarding 748 youth who participated in youth—adult partnership programs in 29 states suggest that young people who develop positive relationships with adults perceive they have more voice in the program and in turn perceive more benefits to program participation. Implications for research and practice are presented.
Listen to them! The challenge of capturing the true voice of young people within early intervention and prevention models; a youth work perspective
This paper aims to explore the challenges to youth work in capturing the voices of young people in a meaningful way within Meitheal and the Child and Family Support Networks model (Meitheal). This is a prevention and early interventionmodel for statutory and non-statutory agencies working with children, young people and families. This paper, within the context of Meitheal, will explore how best to achieve positive outcomes for young people, and identify what are the barriers which inhibit their full participation in this model. A total of 16 youth workers completed semi-structured interviews that were transcribed and analysed using inductive thematic analysis. The analysis identified three themes: ‘Role of youth work in Meitheal’, ‘Barriers and facilitators of adolescent voices in Meitheal’ and ‘The young person’. The study found that youth workers recognise advocacy and support of young people as a key role for their profession within models of prevention and early intervention. Barriers to adolescents' active engagement in Meitheal were the formal structure and agenda, but also the need to achieve outcomes in exchange of professional validation. Youth workers are also concerned about the nature of young people's participation as being fully participatory and voluntary in the process, whilst questioning if their voices are truly being included in a meaningful way.
Justifying children and young people’s involvement in social research: Assessing Harm and Benefit.
At a time when children and young people’s involvement in research is increasingly the norm, this article reflects on the importance of a well-reasoned and transparent justification for their inclusion or exclusion. It explores the dilemma of a researcher’s ethical obligation to protect children and young people from harm and at the same time respect their autonomy as social actors and independent rights holders to participate in research of relevance to their lives. A researcher’s ethical obligation to conduct a rigorous but balanced assessment of harm and benefit is reiterated. The article takes the debate beyond a call for assessing harm and benefit to providing a strategy for conducting such an assessment at the point of research design. Reflecting on two research projects the authors were involved in, three critical considerations are identified. These are: the purpose and the theoretical context of the research; the preferences of the children and young people and their parents; and the available time and resources. The article draws on the research examples to illustrate the assessment process in practice.
Development and testing of an assessment of youth/young adult voice in agency-level advising and decision making
There is a range of stakeholder benefits when youth- and young adult-serving agencies include service recipient “voice” in advising and decision making regarding agency policies and programming. Yet many agency stakeholders lack awareness of strategic best practices to ensure the consistent and meaningful participation of young people in decision-making processes, and few tools exist to evaluate agency efforts. This paper describes the development and validation of the Youth/Young Adult Voice at the Agency Level (Y-VAL), an assessment of the extent to which agencies have implemented best practices for supporting meaningful participation. The Y-VAL is intended for research purposes, as well as to provide agencies with direct guidance about strengths and challenges regarding their efforts to promote youth/young adult voice