Participation Framework FAQ
FAQ on the National Framework for Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-making:
Q1. What is the National Framework for Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-making (The National Participation Framework)?
The National Participation Framework was developed by Hub na nÓg to provide tools and guidance to government departments, state agencies, and non-governmental organisations to improve their practice in listening to children and young people and in giving them a voice in decision-making. It is underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child , the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-making and is based on the child-rights model of participation developed by Professor Laura Lundy.
Q2. What is Hub na nÓg?
Hub na nÓg is a national centre of excellence and coordination on giving children and young people a voice in decision-making and has a particular focus on supporting organisations to work with ‘seldom-heard’ children and young people. It was set up in 2017 by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA), in partnership with Foróige, the national youth development organisation, to support implementation of the Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-making and to improve capacity across all sectors through the provision of training, support and advice for service providers and policy makers.
Q3. Why involve children and young people in decision-making?
There is evidence that giving children and young people a voice on decisions that affect their lives can promote their protection, and improve their confidence, communication skills, ability to negotiate, network and make judgements. In Ireland, statutory and non-statutory organisations are obliged to seek children’s views and take them seriously under the UNCRC, the UNCRPD, and specific domestic legislative provisions. There are also a number of Irish laws that require the voice of the child to be heard in specific contexts, which are listed in Appendix 1 of the National Participation Framework.
Q4. What does UNCRC say about child and youth participation in decision making?
Article 12 of the UNCRC says:
“State Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.”
Q5. What does UNCRPD say about child and youth participation in decision making?
Article 7(3) of the UNCRPD sets out the specific right of children with disabilities to be heard and says.
“States Parties shall ensure that children with disabilities have the right to express their views freely on all matters affecting them, their views being given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity, on an equal basis with other children, and to be provided with disability and age appropriate assistance to realize that right.”
Q6. What else is important to note about the UN Conventions?
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child says that “simply listening to the child is insufficient; the views of the child have to be seriously considered when the child is capable of forming her or his own views”. They also say that a child does not need to have full knowledge of all aspects of the matter affecting him, her or them, but sufficient understanding to be capable of appropriately forming his or her own view.
Q7. What is the Lundy Model?
The Lundy Model is a child-rights model of participation developed by Professor Laura Lundy. The model conceptualises Article 12 of the UNCRC and gives guidance on the steps to take to give children and young people a meaningful voice in decision-making. The model highlights the two fundamental aspects of Article 12 of the UNCRC: the right of children and young people to express their views, and the right to have their views taken seriously and given due weight. It is based on four distinct, although interrelated, elements: Space, Voice, Audience, and Influence.
Please follow this link for an overview image of the Lundy Model.
Q8. What are the overarching principles underpinning the Framework:
The Framework is underpinned by nine overarching principles, which recommend that all processes in which children and young people are listened to, heard and participate (in person or online), must be:
- Transparent and informative
- Child friendly
- Inclusive (Non- discriminatory)
- Supported by training
- Safe and sensitive to risk
Please follow this link for a more complete description of the overarching principles
Q9. Are there tools in the Participation Framework that can help involve children and young people in decision making?
Yes, there are three main checklists that can be used to involve children and young people in decision making at all levels. These are:
- The Everyday Spaces Checklist
This checklist is designed as a guide to help ensure that children and young people have a voice in decision-making in many everyday situations including in classrooms, hospitals, childcare settings, child and youth services, youth and sports clubs, youth projects, arts and creative initiatives and other spaces.
- The Planning Checklist
This checklist guides you on how to listen to children and young people and involve them in decision-making when you are developing policies, plans, services, programmes, governance, research and legislation at national, local and organisational level.
- The Evaluation Checklist
This checklist is a guide for the self-evaluation and external evaluation of policies, plans, services, programmes, governance, research and legislation at national, local and organisational level.
Q10. What is meant by ‘seldom heard’ children and young people?
The term ‘seldom heard’ is used to describe children and young people with a variety of backgrounds and life experiences, whose voices are typically not heard in decision-making processes. Among others, these include, children and young people with disabilities, Traveller and Roma children and young people, those from ethnic minorities, children and young people in alternative care, LGBTI+ children and young people, young carers and those from disadvantaged situations. The barriers to involving these groups in decision-making include language barriers, access barriers (including digital access), communication barriers and cultural barriers. Children and young people may be members of more than one ‘seldom-heard’ group (for example a young Traveller who is also a young carer) and the ways we involve them in decision-making need to take into account such complex and overlapping identities.
Q11. What is participation with purpose?
The vision of the Framework is participation with purpose. Participation with purpose means that when children and young people are involved in decision- making, their views are listened to, taken seriously and given due weight with the intention of leading to an outcome or change.
Q12. What is participation not?
Participation is not about ‘handing over power to children and young people’, rather it is about making decisions in ways that involve children as fully as possible. Neither is it about allowing children and young people to do things that are harmful or unsafe to themselves or others. Children and young people have expertise in their own lives, but they are not the only ones. Adults also have considerable expertise in the lives of children and young people, but do not always know how children feel, what they think or what they like. Decision- making needs to balance children and young people’s best interests with their right to have their voices heard and taken into account.
Q13. What is needed to implement participation with purpose?
A clear understanding of:
- What participation is and what it is not;
- How to involve children and young people in decision-making;
- How to ensure the involvement of seldom-heard children and young people in decision-making;
- How to follow up and give feedback to children and young people; and
- How to be realistic with them.
Q14. Where can I find out more?
On our website we have a host of information and a library full of up to date articles – Hubnanog.ie. We would also strongly advise everybody to read the Framework in full by following this link.
“In a right-based approach, children are recognised as ‘citizens of today’, as opposed to ‘beings in becoming’ (UNCRC, 1989), with an evolving capacity to participate in decisions as they develop and grow.”