Planning children's services: a model of engagement

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

More About the Events

In line with the National Standards for Community Engagement the three linked events were to be inclusive, supported and well-planned. The methods used further reflected the Standards by ensuring that the sessions were experienced by children (aged 10 to 12 years old), young people (aged 14 to 18 years old) and adult duty-bearers as purposeful, creative and enjoyable - in other words, fit for purpose.

Event 1 for children and young people, and Event 2 for adult duty-bearers (see appendices 1a and 1b for the full programmes), followed the same format. The purpose was to capture views on the lived experience of children and young people, and to prepare both parties in the process for the final joint event by focusing on:

  • What do children and young people need to be healthy, happy and safe and live their life with dignity at home, in school and in the community?
  • What barriers are there to this?
  • Some initial reflection on the question: What can we do to deliver what children and young people need and address barriers?
  • Considering Edinburgh, what is it we like and don't like about our City?

Choosing to work with children/young people and then adults in the same way created an opportunity to emphasise the key message that good community engagement starts from the lived experience of the community of interest, and by using approaches they can connect with. For adults, who were steeped in their own services and the work they do day-to-day, it was important to focus clearly on children and young people's needs and rights rather than on adult perceptions of constraints of management or budgets. For the pilot, the explicit intention was to build an approach to Children's Service Planning from the bottom up. Finally, in terms of Event 1 and 2, the participants also began some consideration of the challenge to be considered further in Event 3: What can we do to deliver what children and young people need and address barriers?

Project partners also undertook work between sessions to keep participants on board. Prior to their engagement in the joint/final event (Event 3) children, young people and adults received feedback from their events via summary graphic representations of some of the exercise completed in small groups (see appendices 2 and 4). The children were all visited back in their own school groups to keep conversations going and to address any anxieties - although there were none. When they came together for Event 3 children, young people and adults entered the room with curiosity and excitement, keen to share further. It was evident that the familiarity children and young people had with the approach enabled them to lead and engage fully in the mixed task-oriented groups allocated to them.

Event 3 (see appendix 1c) brought further focus on delivering on the National Standards for Community Engagement in terms of working together and impact by supporting participants to focus on some shared areas of interest and concern, to deepen understanding on the perspectives of others through intergenerational conversations, and to articulate ideas for action and ideas for change.

Specifically, Event 3 sought to take adult duty-bearers to a point where they could identify individual pledges on further action. This began as a collective task with children and young people so that at the end of each block of work the mixed groups were asked to identify ideas for change/ideas for action for families, for schools or colleges or workplaces, for communities or for our city (see the later section Key themes and ideas for action and change). Then, the day ended with adult duty-bearers identifying what they can do and will do for children and young people (see the later section Adult duty-bearers: Planned Action).


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