Ireland is the first country in Europe to have developed a cross-Government National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-making (2015-2020). This Strategy was launched in June 2015, and is a constituent of Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People, 2014-2020.
Goal and objectives of the Strategy
The goal of the National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-making is to that children and young people have a voice in their individual and collective everyday lives. It focuses on the everyday lives of children and young people and the places and spaces in which they are entitled to have a voice in decisions that affect their lives. Below are the objectives and priority areas for action:
- Children and young people will have a voice in decisions made in their local communities
- Children and young people will have a voice in decision-making in early education, schools and the wider formal and non-formal education systems.
- 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.
- Children and young people will have a voice in the Courts and legal system.
The strategy contains a series of additional objectives, which include:
- Promoting effective leadership to champion and promote participation of children and young people.
- Development of education and training for professionals who work with and on behalf of children and young people.
- Mainstreaming the participation of children and young people in the development of policy, legislation and research.
The strategy is primarily aimed at children and young people under the age of 18, but embraces the voice of young people in the transition to adulthood up to the age of 24. The strategy is guided and influenced by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
- Implementation of the Strategy
Giving children and young people a voice in decision-making requires a cross-government response and initiatives and actions from all key Government departments and agencies are included in the strategy. Government departments and agencies are required to report to the DCYA on an annual basis under implementation structures established for Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People, 2014-2020
To assist in its implementation, the DCYA will establish a Children and Young People’s Participation Hub (see below). In addition, the DCYA published a toolkit on how to engage children and young people in decision-making entitled A practical guide to involving seldom-heard children and young people in decision-making.
- Children and Young People’s Participation Hub
The priority action in the strategy for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs is the establishment of a Children and Young People’s Participation Hub, as a national centre for excellence. The Hub will support Government departments and other organisations in implementing the strategy through training, documenting best practice and developing education on children’s rights for professionals. The Hub will be established early in 2017.
Already, there is a link on this site to the Hub with an online database of publications and resources on the theory and practice of children and young people’s participation in decision-making.