NI Children’s Strategy Co-Design Process

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In 2006, the Executive’s Ten Year Strategy for Children and Young People – Our Pledge was launched.  The Strategy outlined how the Executive would improve the well-being of our children and young people in areas such as education, health, environment, rights etc  This Strategy, which was developed following significant consultation with stakeholders, concludes in 2016 and the Department of Education is beginning the process of developing a new Strategy.

The new Strategy will be expected to consider the key issues facing children and young people and outline how Government will work collaboratively to improve the well-being of our children and young people. 

The Department of Education are developing the new Strategy through co-design – engaging with Departments, external stakeholders and children and young people throughout the process to gather views, test assumptions and develop an agreed approach.

The process of design, development and drafting will continue alongside engagement and consultation with stakeholders.  The programme of work has 4 key phases as follows.




Phase 1 – Information gathering

This includes input from workshops held so far and the others to come and obtaining information from a wide group sectoral organisations, children and young people, parents / guardians and academia.  Where possible, existing evidence has been assessed and analysed, this included the recommendations in the various alternative reports to the UNCRC; feedback from stakeholders on the UNCRC List of issues; and responses to the Delivering Social Change consultation (January 2014).From this initial engagement general themes can be identified which demonstrate the importance of;

  1. implementing the UNCRC so that all our children and young people are seen as “rights holders”
  2. making Government work better for our children and young people
  3. empowering and equipping our children and young people to fulfil their potential as active citizens
  4. tackling the long term issues that affect the well-being of our children and young people (issues raised included CAMHS, integrated education, age of criminal responsibility, child poverty, physical punishment, negative stereotyping, support during periods of transition etc).
  5. addressing new / emerging issues which may not have been considered in the previous strategy (issues raised included cyber bullying / internet safety, LGBT children and young people, migrant / newcomer children, FGM etc)

Work is also underway to work with Departmental colleagues and identify existing and forthcoming policies, strategies and legislation which link to the Children and Young People Strategy.

Phase 2 – Analysis of Information

Thematic groups, aligned to the core strategic outcomes, will be established to analyse information, gather evidence, consider baselines and discuss potential actions. This will be done in partnership with children and young people and stakeholders.  This is designed to be an inclusive process and all those who wish to involved will be accommodated.

Phase 3 – Draft strategy

The Department of Education has launched a public consultation on the Executive’s Children and Young People’s Strategy 2017-2027. The strategy is designed to improve the wellbeing of all children and young people living in Northern Ireland. The draft strategy in the form of a consultation document has been developed and agreed with Departmental colleagues and Ministers.  Again, this has been developed in partnership with children and young people and stakeholders. A formal consultation is now underway and will run from 19 December 2016 until 5pm pm Monday 27 February 2017 inclusive.

Phase 4 – Consideration of findings from Consultation

Responses to the consultation process will be considered and analysed.  Officials will work closely with stakeholders (including children and young people) throughout this process to ensure their voice is heard.  The final Strategy will be subject to Ministerial and Executive agreement in advance of implementation.  Consideration will also be given to the ongoing monitoring of Strategy.There will be ongoing updates on the development of the strategy. OFMDFM are keen for this to a truly co-design process.  Everyone is welcome to contribute to the development of this strategy and OFMDFM expect to work alongside a wide range of stakeholders as this process continues.If you wish to discuss the development of the Strategy please contact June Wilkinson at 028 9052 3462 or Email

Papers and Presentations