The Participation unit ensures that children and young people have a voice in the design, delivery and monitoring of services and policies that affect their lives, at national and local level, and is committed to ensuring the inclusion of seldom-heard children and young people in participation structures and initiatives.
The work of the Participation unit is guided by Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and is directed by the belief that children and young people are the citizens of today and not just the adults of tomorrow.
Comhairle na nÓg, which began in 2002, are local councils for children and young people aged 12-18. These councils give them a voice on the development of local policies and services.
They are the recognised national structure for participation by children and young people in decision-making in all 31 local authorities. They are supported by the Comhairle na nÓg Development Fund and Participation Officers.
Dáil na nÓg is the national youth parliament for 12-18 year-olds. It is held every two years.
Approximately 200 representatives from the 31 Comhairle na nÓg are elected as delegates.
This department funds and oversees Dáil na nÓg, which is hosted by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. The topics discussed at Dáil na nÓg are chosen by young people themselves in the 31 Comhairle na nÓg.
Recommendations from Dáil na nÓg are followed-up by the Comhairle na nÓg National Executive, supported by the DCYA Participation Unit and carried through a full process of engagement with relevant influencers, stakeholders and policy makers to ensure their views are reflected appropriately and meaningfully in government decision-making.
DCYA provides opportunities for children and young people to contribute their views on issues of national and personal importance.
Some examples of recently conducted consultations include:
The National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-Making focuses on the everyday lives of children and young people and the places and spaces in which they are entitled to have a voice in decisions that affect their lives.
The priority objectives in this strategy are that children and young people will have a voice in:
Hub na nÓg
Hub na nÓg– young voices in decision-making is a key commitment in the first National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision Making (2015-2020) to support implementation of the strategy.
It is a national centre of excellence and co-ordination. It supports government departments, state agencies and non-government organisations to give children and young people a voice in decision-making on issues that affect their lives, with a particular focus on those that are seldom-heard.