Building on Rainbows: Supporting Children’s Participation in Shaping Responses to COVID-19

Larkins, Cath orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2999-6916 (2020) Building on Rainbows: Supporting Children’s Participation in Shaping Responses to COVID-19. Discussion Paper. UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)

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The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has recently restated that children’s views should be inform responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not a luxury, it is a protective measure. This research, led by Prof Cath Larkins, University of Central Lancashire, shows, across Europe:
• Of the 95 professionals, from 16 sectors and 20 countries, surveyed in one week in April 2020, 30% provided examples showing children’s participation in promoting wellbeing, information design, shaping services and critiquing practice. They reported little evidence of children’s views informing public decision-making.
• Exposure to additional challenges for care-experienced children, young Roma, migrant children, children with experience of vulnerable family situations, poverty and disability and those exposure to CSE and trafficking.
In summary, the research highlights the need to:
1. Provide Recognition. Commit to children's participation in shaping responses to COVID-19. Celebrate children's everyday contributions. Challenge age-based judgements.
2. Support Individual Children: Enable child participation in decisions and their meetings. Improve coordination. Ensure children have regular direct contact with named individuals, in education and social care.
3. Support Collective Influence: Increase opportunities for children to collectively highlight concerns, inform decisions, and hold decision-makers to account. Share platforms for children’s digital participation and offline - post, phone, television and radio.
4. Promote Inclusion: Adopt a critical Children’s Rights Based Approach, guided by marginalised children
5. Coordinate Digital and Offline Solutions: Ensure provision of digital equipment, electricity, access to data and internet safety information. Upgrade professionals’ digital skills and guidance. Provide personal support in use of digital equipment in situations where parents do not have these skills. Provide print copies of materials.
6. Resources for Professionals: Safeguard professionals’ time for participation activities. Provide PPE. Provide secure funding to grassroots and youth work organisations.
7. Public Health Inclusion. Ensure children’s inclusion in formal processes for community and public engagement, children’s services, public health and other structures.
8. Economic Measures. Promote children’s best interests in economic decision-making, learning from children about how to achieve this. Ensure immediate and long-term provision of nutrition, medication, housing and essential services, for children and families in vulnerable situations, and an adequate minimum income, to promote conditions in which children can access opportunities, participate and thrive.

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