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.