Child and youth participation resource guide

Involvement in political decision-making


Policy advocacy and budget analysis

Learning to Listen Core Principles for the Involvement of Children and Young People

This document represents an important step towards achieving the vision of giving children and young people a real say and real choices about the government policies and services that affect them. The action departments take needs to reflect the age of the children, their maturity and understanding and the extent to which their parents and carers will also be involved. The principles in this document apply to departmental policies of participation by children and young people of all ages up to 18. This guidance does not offer a single blue-print or a rigid model but does seek to help departments develop their individual thinking and plans. The purpose of this guidance is to introduce the core principles on which this work should be based; to provide departments with some early advice and background and with signposts to additional help, so that departments can develop effective plans and to let departments know the broad timetable for action. The aim is to provide a common framework within which departments can develop tailored policies, action plans and effective practice to implement this important work successfully.

Turning up the Sound
Save The Children UK 2005
 This report considers how to strengthen children and young people's participation in decision-making in Northern Ireland. In terms of age range the group decided that ages 11–25 would be the main focus, but that the feasibility study would explore the scope for widening the network to include organizations working with under 10s. In Northern Ireland the debate in relation to the necessity of involving children and young people in decisions which impact upon their lives has largely been won. A range of agencies across the statutory, voluntary and community sectors are now committed to the principle of meaningful engagement with children and young people when developing policy, practice and services. Beyond the traditional youth services, there are a number of NGOs with longstanding expertise in the field of child and youth participation, including advocacy groups, specialist interest groups, lobby groups and mainstream child and young people’s charities. A number of agencies came together to explore how children and young people can be more fully engaged as equal citizens and how they can have an input into the development of policy and services.

Improving Your Community
DIY Toolkit: Improving your community — getting children and young people involved
Save the Children UK , 2005
This guide provides tried and tested methods for encouraging young people to become actively involved in local community regeneration. It is based on practical experience.. In particular, the guide is written to support adults with this kind of motivation but less experience in supporting young people’s participation. The guide is aimed at adults. It sets out a process that includes consulting young people about their views, understanding their rights, supporting them to put their ideas into action, and working alongside others to bring about real change. The guide is based on the experience and learning from Save the Children's Community Partners Programme (2000 to 2005).

Children Speak out on Poverty
Report on the ACESS Child Participation Process

The Child Participation Process was in fulfillment of a commitment made by ACESS in March 2001 to ensure that children’s voices will be heard in the policy making process. In this process politicians, and government officials thus far have given low political priority to children’s participation – despite the fact that children constitute approximately half of South Africa’s citizens. Children have a right to participate in decisions that will shape their future. The ACESS Children’s Participation Process has demonstrated both the practical application of this right and the value that their participation can add to the policy-making arena. The state is reminded of its obligation to ensure that children’s participation is an integral aspect of the unfolding social security policy-making process. The state needs to urgently establish mechanisms to take account of the issues raised by the children in this ACES process and to facilitate further child participation processes to give children an opportunity to give their opinions on draft social security policy reform options. ACESS offers its active support to the state in making this a reality.

Assessing Institutional Sensitivity Towards Children: Toolkit for working with Union Parishad, Syed Tamjid ur Rahman, Save the Children Sweden-Denmark, 2007.

It is observed that the Local Government Institutions in Bangladesh play a critical role in ensuring child rights at the grass root level of the society. This led all development agencies to incorporate local government institutions in their development initiatives and activities.  This toolkit has been developed for a better understanding of the Union Parishad and finding ways to integrate the work on child rights issues. It also provides a sense of direction as to how to work with the Union Parishad.  The toolkit will be a useful resource for policy makers, implementing agencies, field workers, NGO activists and other practitioners. 

Children and Young People in Action –Participating in Budget Work
Save the children Sweden, 2005

CEDERA-CEARA initiated its programme of monitoring the Fortaleza city budget. This was done from the understanding that the struggle for the human rights of children and young people has to be conducted through the discussion of public policies that give effect to these rights, by knowing about the allocation of public resources to implement those policies, and through social control in the allocation and spending of public resources. The participation of a group of young people shows that they will be taken into consideration in the approval and monitoring of social investments,. This will help them own and exercise their right to participate and develop their capacity to influence matters concerning them. On the other hand, the adults involved in these processes are encouraged to accept their responsibility and commitment.

Children Participating in Governance - Budget monitoring from a rights-based framework ( IDASA)

This publication is the result of a two-year training project to build children’s capacity for rights-based budget analysis and self-advocacy. The manual is divided into three sections: 1) Basic facilitation skills; 2) Budget analysis for child rights realization and gender equality; and 3) Strategic advocacy. The facilitation section is the introductory aspect of the training and defines facilitation. The second section is divided into topical parts, including: how government works; knowing your rights; budgets; and gender, which formed the basic knowledge areas of the training programme. The third section is an application section where the knowledge areas are used as the basis of an action plan. Strategic advocacy deals with: understanding power, negotiation, advocacy skills and techniques, strategic planning and developing a campaign.

An Overview of Children‘s Participation in South Africa
Children's Participation in South Africa

This paper prepared for the seminar, ‘Theorising Children’s Participation’- University of Edinburgh, September 2006  Susan Mozes

The South African Constitution is one of the most progressive in the world in that it gives full recognition of children’s rights at the very highest level. Still, a tension exists in a developing country context such as South Africa between budgeting for participation (which can be costly) versus addressing the lack of essential services and basic needs. At the level of state (national, provincial and local), children are beginning to be consulted around policy reform and budgetary processes. In some cases this consultation is initiated by the state, but more generally it is driven by institutions of civil society, or international NGOs

Reflections from the Children’s Participating in Governance Project: Budget monitoring within a rights based framework  Christina Nomdo ( Idasa)

This document highlights that children growing up in a young democracy have a window of opportunity to advocate for their own rights, and engage in governance issues. Children’s participation in governance ensures that their perspectives, experiences and priorities affect, inter alia, economic policy and budget allocations and has many benefits. A special section of rights in the Constitution reinforces the value of children in the society. These rights legally oblige the South African state to develop, finance and effectively implement programmes that provide services to children. Monitoring of programming and budgeting is important, both to hold government accountable for fulfilling its child rights obligations, and to advocate for programming and budgeting to advance child rights.

Developing Children and Young People’s Participation in Strategic Processes: The Experience of the Children’s Fund Initiative
Institute of Applied Social Studies (NECF), University of Birmingham

Based on research carried out by the National Evaluation of the Children’s Fund, this paper explores the experience of the Children’s Fund partnerships of engaging children and young people in the strategic process. Children’s and young people’s participation activities have increased considerably among statutory, voluntary and community sector organizations across the UK in recent years. The Children’s Fund, a major government initiative launched in 2000, represents a systematic drive towards promoting children and young people’s participation in planning, implementing and evaluating preventative services within all 149 local authority areas in England.

 Children Participating in Governance Project
Linking Budgets and Rights Constituency workshop: It’s Your Move- Molo Songololo. 2005
A summary report of the youth conference titled “Linking Budgets and Rights Constituency workshop: It’s Your Move” in Molo Songololo between 9 – 10 April,  2005 in Atlantis. It provides technical and political insights into the discussions and evaluation on this most current issue.

Children‘s Right to Influence
This report discusses and illuminates key issues relating to children's right to participation. What does the UN Convention on Children's Rights say about children's democratic rights? When are children capable of forming their own opinions? Can children really make decisions - and do they want to? The report answers these and other questions. Children start expressing their opinions on the very day they are born into the world. There is an established link between communicating and interacting with newborn infants and their subsequent development into young adults able to think freely, express their views and respect other people’s opinions. It is basically about being treated with respect and empathy from the start. To a certain extent, all decisions taken at local, national or international level affect children. Ensuring that children have real influence means starting where the child is, for instance in the family, at school or in the local community. Children can also have an impact on decision-making at national and international level, provided there is room for dialogue between children and adults, that information adapted to children is available and that forums exist in which children can exercise influence.

An Overview of Children‘s Participation in South Africa
This paper prepared for the seminar, ‘Theorising Children’s Participation’- University of Edinburgh, September 2006  Susan Mozes

The South African Constitution is one of the most progressive in the world in that it gives full recognition of children’s rights at the very highest level. Still, a tension exists in a developing country context such as South Africa between budgeting for participation (which can be costly) versus addressing the lack of essential services and basic needs. At the level of state (national, provincial and local), children are beginning to be consulted around policy reform and budgetary processes. In some cases this consultation is initiated by the state, but more generally it is driven by institutions of civil society, or international NGOs

The Young Face of NEPAD
Jointly published by the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Secretariat and UNICEF 2004

This document lays out tangible steps so that we can practically and effectively move towards meeting our fundamentally important aspirations. NEPAD is the instrument for delivering on our promises to children. It calls for “bold and imaginative leadership” and for partnerships between African governments and their citizens, and between Africa and the international community. This paper is intended as a contribution to the NEPAD process. Improvements in the situation of a country’s children are good indicators of the quality of its governance – and it is clear that determined action and leadership are needed to grasp the fruits for Africa’s future of the survival, growth and development of these children. This paper seeks to contribute to Africa’s fulfillment of this hope. It is hoped that the New Partnership can be energized by a common global and continental concern for children, and by the recognition that human capacity – the foundation for sustained development – is best achieved by investing in children and young people and realizing their rights. The proposal is to sharpen the focus on children and young people in NEPAD – to give it a ‘young face’. The document reviews what has worked and what has not worked for children in the last decades; propose strategies for human development within the framework of NEPAD, the MDGs and national Poverty Reduction Strategies; and identify priority actions for and with children and young people which – in the favorable macroeconomic and institutional climate sought by NEPAD and the African Union – will help ensure sustained progress.

Ad Hoc Working Group for Youth and the MDGs, Youth and the Millennium Development Goals: Challenges and opportunities for implementation, 2005.
This paper discusses the implications of MDG implementation for young people. It provides an overview and examples of youth participation in MDG review and implementation.

Guerra, Eliana, ‘Citizenship Knows No Age: Children’s participation in the governance and municipal budget of Barra Mansa, Brazil’ in Children, Youth and Environments, 15(2), 2002.
This paper describes the development of a children’s participatory budget council in the city of Barra Mansa in Brazil. It provides information on the process and its impact and describes how children learned to represent their peers, prioritize resources and develop projects in the city’s democratic structures.

Haid, Phillip, Elder C. Marques and Jon Brown, Re-focusing the Lens: Assessing the challenge of youth involvement in public policy, OSSSA and IOG, Ottawa, 1999.
Addressed at policy makers, this is the summary of a study of youth influence in Canadian public policy. It presents the reasons for youth involvement in policy making and lessons learned.

Inter-Agency Working Group on Children’s Participation, Children as active citizens, 2008
There are two very important aspects to this guide. The first is that it operationalizes children’s civil rights; and the second is that it provides detailed information for the progressive realization of children’s civil rights, through ways of developing and practicing active citizenship. The Inter-Agency Working Group on Children’s Participation (IAWGCP) has successfully conceptualized rights by identifying ten priority policy themes and areas of programming for the East Asia and Pacific Region. The rationale for active citizenship is based on the principle of the right to be heard (Article 12), fully recognizing the evolving capacities of children (Article 5).

Millennium Campaign, Only With Your Voice: Millennium Development Goals youth action guide, Millennium Campaign, Taking It Global and Global Youth Action Network, New York, 2005.
This guide was created by young people to support youth in organizing activities or campaigns in support of the MDGs.

O’Malley, Kate, Children and Young People Participating in PRSP Processes: Lessons from Save the Children’s experiences, Save the Children UK, London, 2004.
This paper summarizes Save the Children UK’s experience in facilitating children’s participation in PRSP processes in Viet Nam, Honduras, Lesotho, Bosnia and Herzegovina. It discusses the effectiveness of different approaches, outlines the learning points and raises questions about the impact and the cost benefits of children and youth participation in PRSPs.

Poudyal Ranjan and Sardar Samina, Change Makers for South Asia: Building New Partnerships: Lessons learnt from the consultations with children, corporate leaders and governments of South Asia, Save the Children (OSCAR), Nepal, 2002.
The Change Makers initiative aims at providing opportunities for children and young people to engage corporate leaders and government representatives in meaningful discussions. This text provides detailed information on the Change Makers initiative and its activities with children.

Rizzini, Irene and Steven J. Klees, ‘Children’s Involvement in the Making of a New Constitution in Brazil’ in Rethinking Childhood: Perspectives on children’s rights, Cultural Survival Quarterly, Issue 24.2, Cambridge, MA, 2000.
This paper outlines the evolution of the child rights movement in Brazil, with special attention to children’s participation in that process. Brazil’s strong child protection legislation marks a significant change in the place of children and adolescents in Brazilian society. The article traces the move from a focus on the correction and control of juvenile delinquency to the provision of social assistance to needy children, to an emphasis on the rights of children and on special protection to safeguard those rights.

Save the Children, Re:action Consultation Toolkit: A practical toolkit for consulting with children and young people on policy issues, Save the Children, UK, 2001.
This toolkit was written for professionals working with children, policy makers, children and youth who want to engage in dialogues on policies concerning them. It aims to encourage children’s participation in policy debates by illustrating consultative approaches on policy issues.

UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Making Commitments Matter: A toolkit for young people to evaluate national youth policy, DESA, New York, 2004.
This kit supports youth organizations to assess national youth policies and community-level achievements for young people.

UNDP, Joint-Programming on Youth /Comparative Experiences on CPRP-net and CPN, November 2008
This is a consolidated reply - comparative experiences from the UNDP Crisis Prevention and Recovery Practice Network (CPRP) and UN Coordination Practice Network (CPN) in November 2008. Network members responded to a query from UNDP Afghanistan, which is seeking to enhance ongoing joint initiatives in the youth education, health and employment sectors. The experiences of Joint Programming on Youth in Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Honduras, Kosovo and Mauritius reveal a series of valuable lessons, policy implications, recommendations for collaborating with governments, and insights into the management of funding and programme oversight.

Williams, Emma, Children’s Participation and Policy Change in South Asia, Childhood Poverty Research and Policy Centre (CHIP), Working Paper 6, CHIP, London, 2004.
This report examines children’s participation in policy processes by exploring ways in which children may successfully influence policy relating to childhood poverty. It compares five case studies in South Asia: an HIV/AIDS conference in Nepal, a children’s parliament in Sri Lanka, two Indian working children’s unions, and a street children’s movement in Bangladesh. Based on these experiences, it analyses which channels of influence have proven most successful for children attempting to engage with decision makers.

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