1 Feb 2018

Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People will partner with the Department for Communities at a conference on 1st February to explore how local councils are encouraging and promoting the role of children and young people in Community Planning.

Community Planning Partnerships, led by local councils, have a wide range of powers and duties to deliver better services and better outcomes for everyone. Community plans identify long-term priorities for improving the social, economic and environmental well-being of districts and residents.

Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, said,

“Community Planning Partnerships have a duty to include children and young people when they develop their plans and then implement their shared vision for their area.  The plans will include delivering better training, education and employment opportunities and outcomes, growing local creative economies and tourism, having fit for purpose transport services, health initiatives and safer communities.  Each and every one of these issues, and many more, directly impact on the lives of children and young people”

The seminar also aims to bring the community planning partners together to explore their duties and responsibilities under the Children’s Services Co-operation Act. This law makes sure that agencies are working together in the best interests of children.

Leo O’Reilly, Permanent Secretary for the Department for Communities said,

“The governing legislation specifies that councils and community planning partners seek the views of the community, encourage them to express their views, and take their views into account  The legislation reflects our shared understanding of “community” in its widest sense, and this includes children and young people. Community planning provides a mechanism for everyone’s views to be included in developing the public services in their communities, from childhood into adult life.

“As part of the work in building a full picture of the views and concerns of citizens in districts, Community Planning Partnerships have an awareness of the diverse needs of the children and young people.  This seminar demonstrates that there is a strong commitment to meaningful and sustained engagement with our children and young people.”

Tommy O’Reilly, Deputy Secretary at the Department of Education said,

“Working together to improve the well-being of all children and young people in Northern Ireland is essential if we are to deliver the positive long lasting outcomes. The Children’s Services Co-operation Act provides the legislation to enable public sector organisations to place the well-being and rights of children and young people at the centre of all of their policies, strategies, programmes and services”

Liam Hannaway, Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (SOLACE) representative and Chief Executive of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, said,

“Community Planning is the opportunity for local councils and their statutory partners to extend local democracy and community engagement in new and innovative ways.  As local authorities we must engage with all, especially with hard to reach groups including children and young people. Learning how we can do this best with children and young people, using the framework of the Children’s Services Cooperation Act, is now essential for all involved in the delivery of Community Planning.”

NICCY’s guidance on how to participate effectively with children and young people, ‘Participation with Children and Young People; Advice to Public Bodies’,  will also be launched on the day.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

  • The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People was established in 2003 by the Assembly and Parliament to: “safeguard and promote the rights and best interests of children and young people”. The Commissioner has a duty to ‘keep under review the adequacy and effectiveness of law, practice and services provided for children and young people by relevant authorities.’
  • For more information, please contact the NICCY Communications Team on Communications@niccy.org, 028 9031 1616 or mobile - 07917 544 177.

 Community Planning Partners are:

  • The Education Authority
  • The Health and Social Care Trusts
  • Public Health Agency
  • Health and Social Care Board
  • Police Service of Northern Ireland
  • Northern Ireland Housing Executive
  • Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service
  • Invest Northern Ireland
  • Northern Ireland Tourist Board
  • Sports Council for Northern Ireland, (SportNI)
  • Libraries NI
  • Council for Catholic Maintained Schools