ChildLinks Issue 2: Children's Participation

Barnardos. (2021). ChildLinks Issue 2: Children's Participation.
Earlier this year, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Inclusion and Youth (DCEDIY) published the National Framework for Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-Making. The Framework, underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, is based on the child-rights model of participation developed by Professor Laura Lundy, Queens University, which provides guidance for decision-makers on the steps to take in giving children and young people a meaningful voice in decision-making. The Framework is to be much welcomed as it plays an important role in ensuring that Ireland is a country where all children and young people are respected and listened to, and where the views of children and young people are at the heart of government decision-making. It is also an important tool at individual level in ensuring that each child’s views are considered and taken into account in all matters affecting him or her. The first article in this issue of ChildLinks gives an overview of the Framework, including the context and background to its development, and considers key initiatives from Hub na nÓg, a national centre of excellence and coordination on giving children and young people a voice in decision-making, on the future implementation of the Framework. The following article looks at the development of Barnardos own Participation Framework, which also embraces the Lundy Model of Participation. The Barnardos Framework is based on a vision that seeks to embed a culture of participation across all functions within the organisation by establishing a set of key objectives and activities to inform all levels of participation and consultation involving children, young people, parents and adult service users. Further articles in this issue consider the participation of our youngest citizens and how this can be embedded in early childhood education and care in Ireland. In the first of these, Sandra O’Neill of Dublin City University identifies some of the critiques levelled against the implementation of participation rights in ECEC settings to date, and explores recent empirical research to provide examples of how the UNCRC has inspired changes to practice in these settings. Better Start, the National Early Years Quality Development service, then consider children’s participation and The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM). AIM, which provides targeted supports, enables settings to cater for the individual needs of children with disabilities, promoting their active participation into the ECCE programme and ensuring each child has a voice. Finally, Dr Sheila Long, Programme Director of Professional Social Care Practice, Institute of Technology Carlow, seeks to initiate a dialogue between stakeholders to illuminate how Higher Education contexts can strengthen their role as sites of children’s rights education as an effective way of teaching about child participation while also responding flexibly to an ever-changing legal and policy context.