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The importance of the views and opinions of young people and children is at the forefront of a new Participation Strategy being launched by Monmouthshire County Council’s Children’s Services team. The council has committed to working towards a county that supports everyone and giving children the best possible start in life and lifelong well-being. In line with this, Monmouthshire’s Children’s Services is working to ensure that all its work, from individual work with children and young people, to reviews of the services it provides and development of new services, is appropriately informed by the views of children and young people, is rights-based, inclusive, respectful and safe.

Under this new strategy, participation means listening to children and taking their views meaningfully into account. All children should be supported to freely express their opinion; they should be both heard and listened to. Their views should be taken seriously when decisions or actions are taken that affect their lives directly or indirectly.

According to the Children’s Commissioner’s Office, the Participation Strategy from Monmouthshire’s Children’s Services is an excellent example of how services are embedding the principle of participation into their ways of working. It gives a bold commitment to rights, plans to embed children’s views into all aspects of Children’s Services, including planning, policies, commissioning and reviewing. It also aims to be collaborative, for children to be valued, respected and in control. It reflects on the different degrees of participation and the many ways in which children can be included and asked for views – no ‘one size fits all. In addition, it focuses on the importance of children being informed and sets out a strong message that all children should know how their views can affect decisions about their life and services.

Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health, Cllr. Penny Jones said: “Children should be encouraged to openly share their views, wishes and feelings and receive appropriate information and support on how to achieve this. Monmouthshire’s Children’s Services Participation Strategy is a really meaningful look at how we can commit to children’s rights and participation and work to ensure that children and young people have the opportunity to have their voices heard and are involved in decisions that affect them.”

Here in Monmouthshire, we are aiming toplace the child/young person at the centre of everything Children’s Services do. We must learn from children and young people about what matters to them, their thoughts, hopes, needs and views about their lives, the services they receive and the barriers they experience and to use this information to make the best decisions we can for children and young people in Monmouthshire. We will strive to continuously improve what we do and how we work on their behalf.’

You can read Monmouthshire’s Children’s Services Participation strategy here, which promotes children’s rights and sets out a strong message that children will be supported to share their views across all areas of services.