Culture Of Participation Will Improve Young People’s Services

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has launched new guidance outlining ways that social care organisations can ensure significant participation of children and young people in developing and improving their services.

The online practice guide, Involving children and young people in developing social care, suggests that services are more likely to change and improve when children and young people are involved at every stage of planning and delivery. It promotes a whole-systems approach to participation and identifies culture, structure, practice and review as the four areas that services need to evaluate and develop.

The guide includes case studies from organisations that have successfully involved children and young people in delivering services, such as Triangle – an organisation that provides training, consultancy and outreach support. Adam Walker, a young person who works for Triangle, says that participation is essential:  

“Mechanics only know how to fix cars because they have worked with them, tested out different methods and listened to their engines. In a similar way, service providers will only really know what to provide children and young people if they work with us, listen to us and find out what we need.”

The guide acknowledges that, while many organisations already understand the importance of involving children and young people, participation is not always embedded into ways of working. SCIE’s Chief Executive, Bill Kilgallon, believes that this is a crucial area for development:

“The last decade has seen participation become a key target in many service-level agreements for social care organisations. This is definitely a positive step forward, but it can lead to the participation ‘box’ being ticked by organisations that have involved children and young people in a specific activity, rather than evidence of change or improvement as a result of their participation.

“SCIE’s new practice guide provides a framework for developing the effective and meaningful participation of children and young people. It includes examples of how, given the right amount of support and involvement, young people can feel a sense of ownership, pride and responsibility over their services. This makes them more likely to engage in them and receive their full benefits. As the government continues its respect agenda to encourage more community activities, it is vital that organisations can initiate and sustain a complete culture of participation.”

To access SCIE’s practice guide on Involving children and young people in developing social care visit SCIE’s website at