Voice of the Infant: best practice guidelines and infant pledge

Co-produced by a short-life working group, on behalf of the Infant Mental Health Implementation and Advisory Group, which is part of the Scottish Government’s Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board.

The Scottish Model of Infant Participation

All babies and young children have a right to meaningful participation, but as they may be preverbal, non-speaking or still developing language, practitioners will need to access innovative ways of facilitating this. Good practice should always address Space, Voice, Influence and Audience, which are inter-related and overlapping. They put the infant front and centre so that they are always in focus, support the use of appropriate tools and mechanisms to facilitate the capturing of their views and ensure that opportunities exist for these views to be shared with decision makers and ultimately acted upon. This requires the use of creative and infant-led approaches that go beyond relying on parents and carers as proxies for the infant voice.

As shown in Figure 1 (below), this Model of Participation is based on four concepts: Space, Voice, Audience and Influence.

Figure 1: The Scottish Model of Infant Participation based on Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Adapted from Lundy (2007) and DCYA (2015).

Article 12 is at the centre of this work, It includes the right to express views this related to Space and Voice  to have views given due to weight relating to influence and Audience.

Space – Provide Safe, Inclusive opportunities linked into

Voice – Facilitation required to help express their views

Influence – Views must be acted upon, as appropriate

Audience – Views must be listened to

Space and Voice relate to the infant's right to express their views.

Audience and Influence relate to their right to have their views given due weight.


Email: pimh@gov.scot

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