Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Joint Delivery Board: principles for participation and engagement - addendum

Addendum to the board's principles for participation and engagement with children and young people.

Deliverable 7 will:

  • work jointly with the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board to consider what is currently available and what is required in the future to support the mental health and wellbeing of 3-5 year olds across Scotland, and produce recommendations for further action

The principles paper remains the key document to engagement with children and young people and this includes younger children. As outlined in the Principles paper, the voices and experiences of children, young people and their families are key to the development of all aspects of work relating to the Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Joint Delivery Board. This includes decision making, service design, delivery and evaluation. 

However, successfully and meaningfully engaging with families and younger children as required in Deliverable 7 requires additional considerations on how to engage with children to best inform the work and maximise the positive outcomes.

We want our children to have the strongest start in life, in a culture where they receive the right kind of support and experiences to lead secure and flourishing lives throughout childhood and in their future. There is a strong relationship between early life experiences and how a baby will develop, cognitively, socially, emotionally and physically throughout their lives. We want our children to spend their earliest years in nurturing surroundings providing young children with a solid foundation on which their skills and abilities will be built.

Parents/main carers are the most important people in their children’s lives, and their support for their children’s learning and development is crucial. Many parents and carers may look for, or need some form of additional support or guidance during the early years to help them to enhance strong relationships and provide positive environments to ensure that their children flourish. Relationships are key to successful partnerships with families. The Principles for Participation and Engagement are clear that any child or young person contributing to the work of the group is appropriately supported to engage, and the principles note that there is a mechanism through which to raise any concerns or improvements that may be required. This is also relevant for parents/carers. 

Successful engagement with younger children will: 

  • ensure parents and carers have the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience of how to best engage their child/ children in this process
  • ensure that all permissions as appropriate are in place prior to any engagement
  • consider the most appropriate approaches which provide ideas for ways to document engagement meaningfully through for example photography, video clips or the child’s mark-making
  • involve the key attachment person in the child’s life (e.g parent/carers/ELC practitioner) is crucial
  • focus on the child/ren’s actions, emotions and words and ensure that developmentally appropriate play resources are available to support children’s engagement if appropriate
  • take place within a caring, nurturing child centred environment
  • include spaces where child/ren can relax, feel safe, happy, content and cosy and which give a sense of care and wellbeing
  • be patient, calm, consistent and understanding
  • provide different opportunities for children to express their thoughts, feelings and opinions with families, in small groups and/or one to one sessions making use of the children’s home or first language if more appropriate
  • provide additional support from Speech and Language Therapy to ensure inclusive approach especially with children with complex cognitive and physical challenges

Successful engagement with parents/carers/will:

  • be clear about the purpose/aims of the engagement
  • consider if parents/carers/ require support
  • consider if parents/carers require alternative methods of engagement which should be carried out in a sensitive and understanding way  eg, language barriers/cultural differences
  • actively engage with those who may not normally engage with services
  • provide a warm, welcoming, trusting environment that helps all families to feel valued and included
  • build good quality relationships with the parent/carer


Parent refers to the mother or father of a child or young person, or to the main carer or foster carer, relative or friend who has been given responsibility for looking after or bringing up a child, for example through a supervision order. 

Useful documents:

Back to top