Levers to support your consultation work

There are various levers that might be helpful to draw on as you plan your consultation work. Some are about legal or policy requirements whilst others are about expectations or standards around good practice.

  • Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that respecting the views of children includes taking account of their opinions.

  • Statutory guidance on the roles and responsibilities of the Director of Children’s Services and the Lead Member for Children’s Services (Department for Education, 2012) promotes children and young people’s participation in public decision making, so they can influence local commissioners.

  • For young offender institutions (YOIs) – Prison service instruction 08/2012 (the care and management of young people) requires that young people are involved in decisions about the regime, the facilities and the environment, through forums or other consultation mechanisms (Annex B, paragraph 24, Prison service instruction, Ministry of Justice, 2012).

  • For secure children's homes (SCHs) – The Children’s homes regulations 2001 (regulation 34, 3) require consultation with children, parents and placing authorities about the quality of care provided.

  • For secure training centres (STCs) – There are no specific mandatory instructions or statutory regulations in relation to consultation, but the general principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child apply.

  • Sections 23 and 26 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 place duties on the NHS Commissioning Board and Clinical Commissioning Groups to make arrangements to involve and consult with service users and the public in the planning and organisation of services. Department of Health guidance ( Real involvement: working with people to improve health services, DH, 2008) encourages thought and offers suggestions about reaching out to people who are ‘easy to overlook’, including young people.

  • Voluntary service standards developed for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) work include Standard 10.1.6, which is about consulting young people and their families in relation to the commissioning and delivery of local services (Quality Network for Community CAMHS (QNCC)). The criteria for measuring progress include giving feedback to those who have been consulted and ascertaining the views of people from different religious, cultural and minority ethnic groups, whether or not they are patients of the service. You could use these quality standards for reflecting on the level and quality of user involvement in both CAMHS and other services used by those in contact with the youth justice system. You could also use them more generally, to provoke discussion about how to collect information about the quality of services provided.

  • Another lever is that consultation with children and young people is a continuing government aspiration. For example, there are strong messages about the right to be heard in the cross-government policy for young people aged 13 to 19 (Positive for Youth). The You’re Welcome programme promotes the importance of young people’s involvement in identifying health service gaps and planning for the future. The Healthy Schools initiative, growing in popularity in secure as well as community settings, has a ‘plan-do-review’ approach with a focus on giving a voice to children and young people. A similar programme, National Healthy FE, operates in colleges and is also relevant to secure settings.

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