The “Together” project aims to contribute to better embedding children’s rights in the responses to crisis situations across the EU, by empowering children and young people living in vulnerable family situations and in alternative care to participate meaningfully in decisions and solutions at local, regional and national level on all matters affecting them.

Together: Working in partnership with children and youth to enhance their rights in responses to crisis situations such as COVID-19 and other emergencies” is a two-year project (2022-2024) co-funded by the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV) Programme of the European Union.

The project is run in cooperation with SOS Children’s Villages’ member associations in Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, and Spain.

 

Why do children and young people need to participate in public decision-making?

More than half of children from the EU feel they are never consulted by more distant authorities such as the local municipality or authority, the national government or the EU.

Co-funded by the European Union

This project is co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of SOS Children’s Villages only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

 

Project contact

Ms. Florence Treyvaud-Nemtzov
Project Manager
train4childrights@sos-kd.org

 

The meaningful participation of children and young people in public decision-making is essential to understand what their needs are in times of crisis, and how to work together to shape inclusive responses.

This is true for all children and young people, however children and young people in alternative care and in vulnerable family situations are among those at highest risk of poverty and social exclusion, and they often face other forms of disadvantage that create barriers for their participation in society.

In times of crisis, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the voices of children and young people are often overlooked by governments and decision-makers, which can result in public policies that negatively affect their lives at home, the education they receive, and their mental health, among other issues.2 With further emergencies such as the cost of living and climate crises threatening to impact children and young people’s lives further, we must ensure that their voices are heard and taken into account in public decision-making processes. 

When children and young people contribute to or make decisions and influence change on their own, the decisions and resulting actions are likely to be more relevant to their lives and thus more effective. As experts on their own lives, children and young people must be supported to participate meaningfully in developing response plans for emergencies. It is not only their fundamental right to participate, but their experiences make them key in identifying what good solutions look like.

 
How can we improve child and youth participation in public decision-making?

To achieve such child rights-based and participatory approaches, it is necessary to improve the capacity of professionals working with and for children and young people, as well as authorities, to uphold children’s rights in their daily work and in decision-making on all topics that impact their lives.

A collaborative approach that involves children, young people, the professionals working for and with them, and public authorities is the only way to effectively ensure meaningful child and youth participation in responses to crisis situations.

In response to this, the objectives of this project are:

  1. Children, young people and the professionals supporting them as well as policy makers improve their capacity to work in partnership in public decision-making processes to ensure that the needs and concerns of children and young people living in precarious family situations and in alternative care are properly taken into account in responses to emergencies.
  2. Children and young people living in precarious family situations and in alternative care participate meaningfully in identifying, developing and advocating for policy recommendations to embed child-rights based and inclusive responses to emergencies.

 

Target beneficiaries

The project targets children and young people living in alternative care and in vulnerable family situations, as well as the professionals who work with them (such as teachers and social workers) and policy makers.

Key project activities

Throughout the project, we will develop and implement:  

  • A peer-to-peer training programme for children and young people, to build their capacity to participate meaningfully in public decision-making.
  • An e-learning programme to raise awareness among public decision-makers and professionals who work for and with children and young people, on how to improve child and youth participation in public decision-making.
  • Informative videos made for children by children and young people, in order to build their knowledge on their rights and how they can voice their views.
  • Informative webinars for professionals and public decision-makers to increase their knowledge on how children and young people want to be included in responses to emergencies.

A series of policy recommendations on how to improve child and youth participation in public decision-making responses to emergencies will also be developed and promoted among public decision-makers in Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy and Spain.

 

Participation of children and young people

Child and youth participation is integral to all project activities. National Child and Youth Advisory Boards will be formed in each participating project country to ensure that the voices of children and young people living in alternative care and vulnerable families are heard throughout. The role of these groups will include supporting in the development of the training programme, videos, and policy recommendations, and leading the training for other children and young people as Peer Trainers. 

1) From the consultation conducted with 10,000 children for the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child and the Child Guarantee, UNICEF, 2020.

2) Report on findings from #CovidUnder19 survey “Children’s Rights during Coronavirus: Children’s Views and Experiences”, Terre des Hommes, 2020.

Read more about the project