Barnardos Glór na nÓg Monitoring and Evaluation Report

Kelly, K. (2018). Barnardos Glór na nÓg Monitoring and Evaluation Report.
Every year Barnardos works directly with children and families across Ireland who struggle with a range of issues. Services and support are provided in 42 centres around the country. Barnardos advocacy team has consistently lobbied and influenced reform of policies, laws and services to improve outcomes for children, seeking to change and improve Governmental laws, policies and procedures across all areas affecting children's lives. This is achieved by ensuring that the knowledge, experience and insights Barnardos has gained through working with children and families are heard at Governmental level. These experiences are wide ranging and can relate to education, health, child protection, poverty and housing. Barnardos believes it is vital for the child's voice to be heard in policy making as it will assist in creation of more child centred policies and laws. Barnardos aim of embedding children and young people’s opinions into their advocacy work is paralleled in Irish Government policy. Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, which is tasked with the care of children and young people in Ireland, is committed to a programme of action which embeds children and young people’s participation in decisions that directly affect them. This commitment, aligned to both the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) is part of the National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-Making (DCYA 2014). The involvement of staff and parents engaged with Barnardos services has always been central to Barnardos’ advocacy work. However, participation and direct involvement of children and young people has played a lesser role. In 2017, Barnardos appointed a dedicated Advocacy Officer to support its services to engage in advocacy in a more sustained and meaningful way. This appointment has reoriented Barnardos advocacy work to a stronger project-led focus while continuing to respond to national policy and legislative developments. This dedicated role has also enabled the advocacy team to consider how Barnardos can embed children’s voices and opinions in their work. A Barnardos initiative – Amplifying Voices – worked with children in three communities across Dublin. The purpose of that initiative was to test, develop and demonstrate models of effective rights-based participation ultimately leading to better outcomes for children and young people. To explore the inclusion of children’s participation in Barnardos advocacy work in a more sustainable way, an application for funding was submitted to the Quality and Capacity Building Initiative (QCBI) Innovation Fund managed by TUSLA and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The application was successful, and funding was received to establish the Barnardos Glór na nÓg project. Glór is the Irish word for voice, and through this funding Barnardos aims to embed children and young people’s participation into Barnardos’ advocacy work. This will be achieved by developing and piloting a method of engagement and drafting an internal policy on children and young people’s participation in advocacy work. The pilot Glór na nÓg project aims to fully embed the participation of children and young people into such advocacy and has the following objectives: • to develop a method of engagement with children • to pilot that method with up to 25 children in different locations • to monitor and evaluate that pilot to provide the basis for embedded child advocacy policy For the purposes of the Monitoring and Evaluation of the pilot the key objectives are as follows: Process Monitoring: • To provide a method of monitoring the process of the pilot workshops and so enable all participants to have input into iterative change during the four workshops Output Evaluation: • To gather meaningful quantitative and qualitative data from the all participants – the children, advocacy team and project workers - enabling the development of a basis for embedded child advocacy policy. In order to achieve these objectives, the planning and drawing up of materials took place over the months of June and July 2018. The Research and Advocacy Teams approached the Limerick South Barnardos Project for participation in the pilot of Glór na nÓg with the intention of building on work already conducted there on child advocacy. Three urban workshops were planned at a local school as part of the Summer Camp activities. One workshop took place for three different age groups over three Wednesdays in July 2018. A further rural workshop took place in mid-August, also in Limerick County. This report provides details of the monitoring and evaluation of the pilot method of engagement developed as part of the Barnardos Glór na nÓg project.