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:
- 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.
- 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.