Planning children's services: a model of engagement

This document provides a model of engagement for developing children's services plans.

About the Pilot

The approach we report on here starts with Scotland's National Action Plan for Human Rights [8] ( SNAP) which aims to build a better human rights culture, help improve people's lives through human rights and contribute to a better world by giving effect to Scotland's international human rights obligations.

Emerging from the SNAP commitment to 'a better human rights culture' the SNAP Better Culture Forum was established and subsequently worked on a pilot approach to community engagement in planning - one that places Human Rights at the centre of the process. This approach was first tested by the Scottish Human Rights Commission [9] ( SHRC) and partners through the SNAP Better Culture Innovation Forum held in Perth and Kinross. The approach was built around three events: the first saw members of the public come together to identify local needs in terms of services, then planners took part in an event, then a final joint event when members of the public and planners got together to explore ways forward for local services and make a continued commitment to community engagement.

The Scottish Government were interested in the approach and decided to fund a pilot to look at adapting this SNAP model to support Public Bodies to work with children and young people in a process that would engage them as partners in Children's Services Planning. Working within a rights framework, in this pilot children and young people are understood to be rights-holders and adults to be duty-bearers.

Partners in the Edinburgh Children's Partnership were successful in a bid to Scottish Government to develop and deliver the approach. As with the Perth and Kinross iteration, the model started with the structure of three linked events, so that in Edinburgh:

  • Event 1 would engage with children and young people as rights-holders.
  • Event 2 would engage adult duty-bearers.
  • Event 3 would then bring children, young people and adult participants together.

The purpose of the events was to identify what children and young people need to live their lives with dignity, to recognise barriers and to explore solutions across the domains of life at home, in school, and in the community.

For the partners in Edinburgh, the pilot initiative was a way to develop a methodology for engagement that is jointly owned by children, young people and adult duty-bearers which might then be shared as a model of good practice with other Community Planning Partnership areas. Ultimately, partners in the Edinburgh Children's Partnership are interested in working with children and young people on improving services, instead of doing it for and to them.

The intention in Edinburgh is that this model will be used to help deliver the 2017-2020 Children's Services Plan in the context of an ongoing commitment amongst the planners (duty-bearers) to meaningful ongoing engagement with children and young people. For Edinburgh, the work is also an ideal and timely opportunity to shape the City Vision 2050, work around Future Schools and creating a child friendly city.


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