What is your advice to people wanting to strengthen children’s participation in parliaments?
To have functional children’s participation in parliament or government decisions, it is important to agree on clear frequent spaces and opportunities for dialogue among children and adults.
Common initiatives or projects should be sought. Support should be delivered to children/young people and also government decision makers to have a common understanding on participation for results to be achieved.
Child and youth led initiatives should be supported with adequate budgets and resources.
What impact did you want to achieve?The main outcome was to engage young people, equip them with skills and use the evidence they were collecting in their interaction with governmental stakeholders. The main target was to influence policy change on leaving care and raise awareness on issues from young people themselves as self advocates. Proposals were made to governmental stakeholders calling on their attention, and meetings took place on the topic of leaving care. The main impact is that young people could interact themselves with governmental and CSO stakeholders to speak up for themselves and their peers.
What can people do to continue trying to achieve the impact you hope for?The area of leaving care remains weakly addressed in the agenda of child care reform and deinstitutionalization. It is very important to think about provisions and services for young people preparing to leave care and having left, so that they do not feel abandoned by the system. Research on these topics is important, especially research done by young people with care experience, as they are more ready to advocate in this regard. Stakeholders were more touched and ready to listen when young people were presenting results of their research and issues on leaving care.
What are your recommendations or calls to for continued action on these issues?
- Increase more awareness on leaving care;
- Mobilize young people in networks and groups to advocate for these topics;
- Continue to produce evidence on key issues for young people in care, their rights, especially during the period of leaving care and after they have left care.
What did you do?The peer research methodology (known as action research) is useful because it empowers young people in academic research, involve them in all the aspects of the research project, allows a greater depth and insight of the research subject, supports advocacy for, with, and by children affected by the issues, and the final results are aimed to be translated into action and further advocacy work. Click the link below to see an article by Celcis entitled 'Peer Research – how to make a difference' that explains in more detail the peer to peer research methodology https://www.celcis.org/application/files/9814/6669/6569/Peer-Research-How-to-Make-a-Difference.pdf Initially, the methodology was used to frame an EU funded project in 2012 with involvement of 40 care experienced young people (from Albania, Poland, Czech Republic, Poland) who were selected and trained to become peer researchers and conduct interviews with children and young people in different forms of care. The results were used to advocate for leaving care policies and practices at national level through meetings and events with stakeholders, and also at European level in Brussels by meeting EC commissioners. Here is a video clip about our work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBuR20JjfN0 Young people (aged 16-24) from different forms of alternative care were involved in preparation of the research scope, questionnaires, selected and trained as peer researchers and were involved in data analysis and participation in advocacy activities to raise issues about leaving care. The methodology was further implemented by other partner organizations, SOS Children's Villages (Croatia, Uzbekistan, Armenia) to engage young people and produce evidence to conduct advocacy work on leaving care. The most recent use of the methodology was done by SOS Children's Villages Serbia in 2021. Peer research is very unique because it engages young people to explore issues of their peers in different forms of care. It is a unique methodology as young people gain a lot of skills and become more motivated to do more about their rights and the rights of their peers in care. They get a better perspective and are more eager to get involved in meetings with stakeholders to raise concerns and propose solutions based on their research and evidence based experience. This methodology of research is particularly unique because it creates great openness on the side of the interviewees from care to talk about their issues to their peers rather than adults as researches, and they keep themselves connected and interested to be in a touch and mobilize as a network. Most important all the data produced from peer to peer research methodology was used in national meetings, awareness raising activities, workshops and proposals for policy change or attention on leaving care and after care .
The places involved:Peer research methodology was implemented in different countries by SOS Children's Villages (Albania, Croatia, Poland, Czech Republic, Finland, Poland, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Serbia) The link to the European report on peer research with insights for Albania, Poland, Czech Republic and Finland can be found here : https://www.soschildrensvillages.org/getmedia/80a754d9-8832-4a16-9e7e-11ece55b23e0/PeerResearchEuropean-Report-WEB.pdf. The report from SOS Children's Villages Serbia on peer research can be found here: https://childhub.org/en/child-protection-online-library/peer-researchabandonment-alternative-care?language=sq For further information you can contact Almandina Guma from SOS Children's Villages: Almandina.Guma@sos-kd.org