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Consultations and participative initiatives with children and young people

The DCYA provides opportunities for children and young people to contribute their views on issues of national and personal importance and is currently or has recently conducted the following consultations:

 

Over the last eleven years, consultations with children and young people have been conducted on the following issues:

 

Several of these consultations have resulted in significant developments in public policy and services, aimed at improving the lives of children and young people. Others have led to participative initiatives in which children have played critical roles such as, developing a story book and guide books for children who are being taken into alternative care, or being directly involved in appointing the Ombudsman for Children. An independent review of the process of involving children and young people in the appointment of the Ombudsman for Children is available on www.dcya.gov.ie.

Case studies on two of these participative initiatives are outlined below.

(i) Case Study 1: Listening to Children in Care

In response to the publication of the Ryan Report on Institutional Abuse in 2010 the DCYA conducted consultations with 210 children and young people who live in the care of the State from all over Ireland. The report of the consultations was called Listen to Our Voices: Hearing children and young people living in the care of the State. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs invited children and young people who had taken part in the consultation to become part of a group to oversee implementation of the recommendations from Listen to Our Voices.

The group of 19 children and young people named itself Teenagers and Children Talking in Care (TACTIC) and spent almost two years working with the DCYA and HSE Children and Family Services to drive forward the recommendations from the report.

 

TACTIC decided that the most useful way to support children and young people going into care and give them a voice in decisions about their lives is to provide with them with information written by children and young people who themselves live in the care of the State.

 

TACTIC developed an information pack to give to all children and young people when they first go into care, which includes the following:

  • a storybook for children aged 3-7;
  • a guide book for children in foster care aged 8-12;
  • a guide book for young people in foster care aged 13-18;
  • a guide book for young people in residential care aged 13-18;
  • bookmarks on the national standards for foster care and residential care;
  • ‘Child in Care Forms’ that ask children in care for their views and opinions.

These resources were launched by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and Tusla – Child and Family Agency in December 2014 and are now provided to every child entering the care system.

(ii) Case Study 2: Ireland becomes the first WHO country to involve children and young people in the development of the Health behaviour of School-aged Children Survey (2014)

The Health Behaviour of School-aged Children (HBSC) survey is a cross-national research study conducted in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO). The Survey is run on a 4-year academic cycle with over 43 participating countries and regions. The HBSC Survey is one of the most important data sources on the health and well-being of children and is extensively used in policy-development in Ireland.

Domains explored in the HBSC Survey and the questions under each domain are developed by academics and policy-makers at national and international level. In 2012, no participating country had ever involved children or young people in development of domains and questions for the Survey.

The DCYA Citizen Participation Unit and the National University of Ireland Galway undertook a process of involving children and young people in the development of domains and questions for the HBSC Survey 2014. Thus, Ireland became the first country ever to involve children and young people in development of the HBSC Survey, 2014.

A three-stage process was adopted for involving children and young people in the process:
Stage 1: Identification of domains thatare important to children and young people
Stage 2: Development of questions under the domains identified by children and young people
Stage 3: Testing the Questions

Separate creative and age-appropriate workshops were conducted with children aged 8-12 and young people aged 13-17 at each stage of the process over a two-year period.

The domain areas prioritised as MOST important to 8-12 year old children were:
1. Having fun
2. Parents, family and wellbeing
3. Safety

Domains on ‘Having fun’ and ‘Parent, family and wellbeing’ had not to date been included in the HSBC Study.

The domain areas prioritised as MOST important to 13-17 year old young people were:
1. Mental health
2. Cyber-bullying
3. Independence
4. Diversity & Individuality

Domains on 'Cyber-bullying', 'Independence' and 'Diversity & Individuality' had not to date been included in the HSBC Study.

At the end of all stages in the process, a number of questions developed by children and young people were included in the HSBC Survey, Ireland 2014 and are outlined below:
 

Primary school questions: 

Question

Response

Domain

Do you play sports?

Yes, No

Fun

Do you play with a club?

Yes, No

Fun

Do you prefer to play…

Indoors, Outdoors?

Fun

How often do you do your hobbies?

Every day, Every week, Every month, Rarely, Never

Fun

Does your family play with you ?

Always, Often, Sometimes , Never

Family

Do you love your family?

Always, Often, Sometimes, Never

Family

 

Post -primary school questions

Question

Response

Domain

Are you comfortable talking about your sexuality?

Yes, No , Don’t know

Diversity /individuality

Do you feel comfortable being yourself with your friends?

Always, Often, Sometimes, Never

Diversity /individuality

At what age should young people be allowed to work?

 

Independence

The voting age is 18. What age do you think it should be?

 

Independence

Are you self-confident?

Always, Often, Sometimes, Never

Mental health

Do you feel social networking sites are safe?

A lot, Some , A little, not very much, Not at all

Bullying

 

The inclusion of the new domains and questions in the HBSC Ireland, Survey 2014 will provide valuable information on aspects of the lives of children and young people never before explored in the Survey.

This information will assist in the development of policies and services that meet the needs of children and young people in aspects of their lives that are important to them. The outcomes from the process confirm the value of involving children and young people as stakeholders in the HSBC Survey and challenges researchers and policy-makers to consider involving children and young people in the development and design of other research into their lives and behaviour.

 

 

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