Decision-making: children and young people's participation

How to involve children and young people in decision-making.


Children and young people have a right to be heard and involved in decisions that affect them.

We are committed to recognising, respecting and promoting children’s rights, as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)

We want to make it the norm for children and young people to be involved in decision-making across Scotland, so that they are at the heart of decisions that affect them at local and national levels in line with Article 12 (right to be heard) of the UNCRC

New legal requirements to extend and protect children’s rights will come into effect from mid-July 2024, under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Act 2024 – UNCRC Act, for short.

The Act makes it unlawful for public authorities, including the Scottish Government, to act incompatibly with the UNCRC requirements when delivering duties under powers in an Act of the Scottish Parliament. It also applies to private and third sector organisations carrying out certain functions on behalf of public authorities.

Once the legislation comes into force, Scottish Ministers will be legally required to prepare and publish a Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA) in respect to all Bills, most Scottish Statutory Instruments, and strategic decisions that relate to the rights and wellbeing of children.

It also gives children, young people, and their representatives a new ability to use the courts to enforce their rights.

The Progressing the Human Rights of Children in Scotland: Action Plan 2021-2024 was published in November 2021. This includes strategic actions to help empower children and young people to claim their rights, such working with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman to develop a child-friendly complaints process.

Over the past six years, the Scottish Government has taken a number of steps to ensure that the voices of children and young people are heard at the highest levels of Government, on issues that matter most to them, with the aim of improving policy and legislation development and implementation.

In addition to young people being directly involved in Government groups, we have also continued to fund a number of third sector organisations, including the Scottish Youth Parliament, the Children’s Parliament and Young Scot to lead on participation and engagement with children and young people.


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