The impact of children and young people's participation on policy making
- Young people's participation must be made more meaningful by building their engagement in from the start of the policy-making process at the planning stage. This includes prioritising topic areas, setting the agenda and designing the methods of engagement.
- Policy makers must be encouraged to think more creatively than one-off consultation events. If these do arise, there are still opportunities to involve children and young people and give them more control, whether through shaping the programme and the methods, getting involved in facilitation or reporting and sharing findings creatively.
- Scottish Government and local authorities should build in consistent funding streams to promote the participation of children and young people. Wherever possible this should support ongoing, child led engagement where children and young people are given a space to raise issues that they want to talk about.
- More must be done to support the participation of vulnerable groups, including those with additional support needs and younger children. Adequate time, resource, planning and partnerships can also support wider engagement and need to be factored in. This can support preparation prior to engagement work and the development of 'specialist' methods.
- All participation and engagement work should be supported by staff with the right skills and experience. Partnership working is often an effective option here.
- Participation and engagement activity should be underpinned by a child rights approach. Policy makers should be aware of their responsibilities under the UNCRC and understand their role in enabling children and young people to have their rights upheld.
- All participation and engagement work should be consolidated by ongoing and accessible feedback both throughout and at the end of the project, regardless of the success or impact of the engagement.
- Children and young people usually engage in policy making as volunteers, and have wider lives to consider. Timescales and expectations must reflect this. Organisations must consider how they can best thank or recompense children and young people for their contributions. They should also respect children and young people's right to drop out of engagement work at any point.
- The Scottish Government and partners need to find ways of measuring/quantifying the impact of young people's involvement. Wherever possible children and young people should be involved in evaluation of engagement activity.