The term ‘children’s participation’ means ‘the involvement of children and young people in decision-making on issues that affect their lives’. A distinction is made between children and young people’s participation in personal decisions and their participation in public decisions. Personal decisions affect the individual child. In the context of the work of Tusla, this means their involvement in decisions regarding their personal welfare, protection or care, while public decisions affect children collectively and generally refers to decisions made as part of planning and reviewing service provision.
Under the Development and Mainstreaming programme for Prevention, Partnership and Family Support (PPFS), Tusla has committed to a programme of action to mainstream participatory practice in the agency as a whole.
The programme of action includes for example:
- The delivery of Child and Youth Participation training and the development of a participation toolkit;
- Quality assuring participatory practice in conjunction with Investing in Children; and
- In conjunction with Empowering People in Care (EPIC), the establishment of participation fora for children in care to feed into policy development and service provision.
Our goal as researchers is to examine the extent to which the programme of action embeds children and young people’s participation in the structures and culture of Tusla. We will also examine whether it provides Tusla staff, and those of Tusla funded agencies, with the required competences to support their participatory practice.
A primary intended outcome of PPFS is that the participation of children and young people in decision-making is embedded in Tusla’s culture and operations.
The overarching research question for this Work Package is:
To what extent is participation by children and young people in decision-making embedded in the structures and culture of Tusla?
To answer this question our research will involve assessing the level of participatory practice within Tusla at two points in time. (1) Prior to the implementation of this programme of action and (2) following its implementation.
We will also document the delivery of the programme of action to (1) generate learning from its implementation and (2) to identify what are the critical ingredients to successful implementation as well the main challenges arising.
Our research will be informed by the views of Tusla professionals and professionals in Tusla funded agencies as well as the views of children and young people.
The leads on the Children's Participation work package are:
Doctoral Researcher: Rebecca Jackson
McGreal, B. and Kennan, D. (2017) The Perspectives of Educational Welfare Officers on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-Making, prior to the Implementation of the Programme for Prevention, Partnership and Family Support. Galway: The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway.
Kennan, D, Forkan, C. and Brady, B. (2017) Children's Participation: Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-Making within Tusla: A Baseline Assessment Prior to the Implementation of the Programme for Prevention, Partnership and Family Support. Galway: The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway.
Kennan, D., Brady. B. and Forkan, C. (2016) Exploring the Effectiveness of Structures and Procedures Intended to Support Children’s Participation in Child Welfare, Child Protection and Alternative Care Services: A Systematic Literature Review. Galway: The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway.
Children’s Participation: A study exploring ‘what works’ in terms of supporting children’s participation in the context of child welfare, child protection and alternative care services.