CHILDREN PARTICIPATION IN DESIGN AND DELIVERY OF SERVICES

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Introduction

It is undeniably true that participation and engagement of every stakeholder is an integral component of ensuring inclusivity. People tend to feel valued and part of a decision they are involved in. Over the last few decades, there has been an increasing recognition and acceptance of the right of children to participate in the design and delivery of services they use. Just like other stakeholders, the insights of children play a significant role in the delivery of services that they use. Organizations and firms have begun to acknowledge that when given an opportunity and listened to, children play a vital role in the planning as well as in the delivery of services that they use. Many organizations including the UN are fostering and encouraging the involvement of children in decision making regarding the design and delivery of services that affect them. It is true that provision of healthcare, education, and shelter is important to the well-being of children. Governments, the media and civil societies have focused on fulfilling children’s rights to protection from violence, abuse, and exploitation. It has been determined that involvement of children accrues more benefits as compared to the demerits and thus something that should be embraced and encouraged. This paper seeks fathoms that children should be involved in the design and delivery of services that they use. It will also look into how children can be enabled to participate effectively. 

The United Nations on the convention of the right of the child fathoms that children have the right to provision, protection, and participation. These are commonly denoted as the 3P’s, but participation has been the most controversial since there are people who believe in the school of thought that children should not have the right since they are young to discern the impacts or rather the consequences of their decisions (Unicef, 1989). They might, in particular, fail to understand that the decisions they are making may affect them in the future in life. 

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Participation according to Article 12 of the UNCRC states that a child that can form a point of view has the right to express their thoughts and views freely in all matters affecting them including being involved in the design and delivery of services that affect them. These views should be accorded a higher precedence based on the age as well as the maturity of the child. The same article postulates that they have the right to access to information, freedom of expression and association and also respect for the child’s evolving capacity (Unicef, 1989)

The rights of children are often confined in the UNCRC along with the rights to education, healthcare and leisure time and also from protection exploitation, abuse, and violence. Children have a right to take part in decisions that affect their lives. When a guardian is appointed for a child, for example, it is now common for a court to listen to the desires and wishes of the child before making any decision. Children also have the right of organizing themselves in interest groups which act as channels for their views to be made known. Some of the initiatives that have been formulated with a bid to foster children engagement include the formation of these interest groups with youth council to champion for their rights and also the introduction of planning and budgetary processes that engage children in choosing priorities alongside their adult counterparts through approaches such as focus groups and surveys (Unicef, 1989).

It has been ascertained that children participation is not best attained by having children on conferences or engaging them in every research but rather through widespread changes in institutional and political structures and attitudes, cultural practices, and values that make children recognized as stakeholders and citizens. 

Articles 12, 13 and 15 directly look into children participations stating the confines of their involvement. What is not stated in the articles is the minimum age for children participation and does not give the children the right to veto decisions made by adults but requires adults to seek the views of children and take them into account (Unicef, 1989).

Significance of children participation

Not only do children participations make sense and is their right but also useful, just and educational.

Useful

It is undeniably true that public facilities and services are used by children and thus have a direct effect on their welfare. Public facilities such as hostels, schools, and the transport and health services have a large number of children as their customers. Involving users in the design and deliverance of operation services, it is more likely that they will not only be well targeted but is also efficient and appropriate. 

The outcomes of child-protection enhance when children’s points of view are listened to. For instance, there have been many applauds by children of the NGO children’s club helping in the persuasion of their parents not to send them to work due to financial difficulties in the family. 

Just

Most children globally care for other children, the sick as well as the elderly in society among other members of the community. Children most often do take on heavy burdens of housework, income generation and also engaging in farm work. This portrays them as active citizens. Despite their active roles, the government often views them as a burden or cost to the society (Unicef, 1989). This is not fair at all, and it will only be fair and just if their views and contributions are acknowledged and that they are granted an opportunity to have a say in the management and decision making of services that affect them. 

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Educational

Another importance regards the educational value accrued with children participation. Children engagement is an education for the adult life. This is because, the practice of participation in childhood fosters the development of adults who are not only responsible but also respectful and fair of the opinions of other stakeholders such as children. Furthermore, children can make significant contributions to the development of solutions to issues and problems affecting them since such things affect them directly and can have insights on how to deal with them. 

How children can be enabled to participate effectively 

Involvement of children can be introduced effectively but with a greater plan. Public leaders can take steps to enhance children participation in national life by assessing the structures that are present at the moment. Children can be engaged in literary all sectors. Some of the ways children can be involved include the following

Justice

Children should be given a platform to express their views on issues regarding guardianship, having children-friendly processes, protection of children during interrogation processes and the inheritance of assets and benefits. It has been ascertained that children can engage in judicial review of family and inheritance laws (Foley & Leverett, 2008). Youth focus groups can contribute to current procedures to determine if they can be improved and work for their good. Children right organizations and legal organizations can work coherently with the government to ensure that important areas of the law are made known to children by using the most appropriate media.

Education

In education, the important aspects to consider include determining whether every child is entitled to go to school is education free, do children have access to education and can children express their views when in school. From these questions, there are participation ideas. Several innovative programmes increase access to schooling for children who are disadvantaged to increase school retention and access. Children can be conjoined in the development of school curriculum and development of teaching materials. Furthermore, school governance can incorporate children through special student representatives or special committees.

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Health sector

With regards to health, information on nutrition, safe practices, and hygiene may be fostered, managed by children and even tested with the help of societal organizations particularly those that are led by children. Furthermore, the monitoring of the health of children could entail children themselves in planning as well as carrying out the activities themselves (Foley & Leverett, 2008). Healthcare facilities could consult children when seeking to enhance their services. Moreover, children have a right to consent to medical treatment in discussion or rather in consultation with their parents or families.

Community services sector

Children should be involved in community services. Children-run organizations should be supported by offering grants and awards to those involved as this will be an encouragement to them. Children can engage in the gathering of data, for instance on the situation of child labor.

Information sector

In the information sector, children have access to media and internet services that can give them a platform to communicate their views. Training courses enable children to participate as consumers and users of media. Children access to electronic as well as print materials may be fostered through subsidies and the removal or reduction of taxes on such things.

Role of different stakeholders in children participation

Legislators

They need to review current rules and regulations to ensure that they are consistent and commensurate with the participation principles as postulated in the UNCRC (Unicef, 1989). This should include areas such as economic development, health, education, labor, criminal law, child care, social welfare and the effect of taxation policies on children. They should engage with children representatives on any proposed changes. Furthermore, they need to promote children engagement in the article and public speeches.

Role of administrators

Administrators need to set clear and precise targets for increasing children’s engagement. They should also incorporate children-friendly approaches of gathering children views (Foley & Leverett, 2008). Ensure that complaint procedures can be easily accessed by children and also introduce inspiring pilot programs that actively solicit children’s views and offer space for children to take up leadership roles particularly on issues that affect them. 

The role of the media

The media can also play an integral role in the participation of children in the design and deliverance of services that affect them. They should treat children and their views with utmost respect. Ensure that they publicize and report any steps attained by the government to incorporate children views in decision making. They should also facilitate children engagement in broadcasting and writing. Furthermore, the media need to include children’s point of view when covering public issues including issues relating to education, transport, community services and health (Foley & Leverett, 2008).

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Ways of ensuring children participation is effective

It is integral to note that there are dangers of imposing burdens on children without the realization that also the parents have a responsibility. Some of the ways that can aid in children participation include;

Avoid tokenism: notably, of recent, there has been the participation of children in large conferences; however, most of these arrangements often fail to shape policies. It is, therefore, integral to start at the levels since it is more meaningful at the local level. It has been determined that when children are invited to make speeches where the adults do not take into account or actualize their views the children become angry and disillusioned and thus do not build a positive view of citizenship as well as public service (Foley & Leverett, 2008). It is, therefore, to always fulfil the pledges made to children so that they can get motivated and feel valued.

Recognize that adults have important duties: it is the role of every parent or an adult to listen and respond and also the right to protect and uphold the rights of children. This is because participation can expose the children to dangers that they have not encountered previously when they are the subject of media interviews or when they leave home. It is therefore important for adults to take reasonable precautions.

In conclusion, it has been determined from the above discussion that children participation in the design and delivery of services that affect them is of great significance and should be encouraged. There are many benefits accrued compared to the demerits accrued.  

Did you like this sample?
  1. Foley, P. and Leverett, S. eds., 2008. Connecting with Children: Developing working relationships. Policy.
  2. Unicef, 1989. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Child Labor, p.8.
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