We advocate for the interests, rights and wellbeing of children and young people

This page helps you work through your planning process for engaging with children.

It is designed to help you feel confident the process will be effective for your organisation and safe and meaningful for children.  

The information below guides you through six basic items to consider. For more in-depth advice, read the supporting guides to the right, and print off the planning guide for engaging with children so you can check when you have covered off each important preparation step.

Further reading and resource material is available in the resources section.

If you are ready, go straight to engagement methods.

 

 

 Checklist before you start your engagement

1. What is the purpose of your engagement?

Be clear about the purpose of your engagement with children. You can engage with children to:

  • Inform your strategic directions and priorities
  • Support improved policy, programme or service design
  • Incorporate into evaluation or monitoring activities of programmes or services

Being able to articulate the benefits of engaging with children can help you get support from your organisation, to include the perspectives and needs of children and young people in your organisation's work.

2.  Who are the children you want to engage with?

Children are diverse and it is important to recognise their diversity in your planning. Engagement methods for teenagers may not work well for children under 8 years old.

Similarly, when engaging with children who are Māori or Pacific, you need to consider their cultural experiences when developing consent information, when considering ethical issues, and implementing engagement methods.

For more information about how to engage with a range of child population groups check out our tips to maximize participation of all children.

Identifying your target group will drive how you will include them in the process. 

3. How will you use the information and what influence will children have?

If you plan ahead about how you will use the information you collect, then your method of engagement is more likely to fulfil your needs. For example will you:

Use quotes to demonstrate what children say

"Mental health affects more than just one person in the family, it affects the whole family" Youth Advisory Group Member, 2014

Incorporate data and summary analysis into an impact assessment

"16 percent of children we surveyed said they did not participate in a desired out-of-school activity because it cost too much." Voices Project, 2015

Use the ideas put forward to develop options, amend policy, and design your programmes

"Support park and recreation facilities in low socioeconomic status neighbourhoods so that children have free or low cost opportunities to play." This became a recommendation after consultation with children on options to address poverty.

 

 There are three broad levels of influence children and young people have in decision making processes.

Children lead the decision making process and are supported by adults

Example - a group of students approach the school principal wanting to change the school uniform.  The principal and board agree and the students are provided with time and resources to design a number of uniform options. Students are included in the final decision-making.

Adults share decision-making with children

Example - a local authority wants to build a playground for children. The organisation runs a series of co-design workshops with children. Their ideas influence the design of the playground.

Children are consulted with, and their views are considered by adults

Example - a community organisation is preparing a submission on local liquor licences. The organisation surveys children to gather their views on how having alcohol shops in their area impacts on them. The children's feedback is considered as part of the recommendations in the submission.

 

Children should always be told the limitations and boundaries of their input, so you can manage expectations about their level of influence.

Similarly, you should feed back to participants in a timely manner so they can see the results of their participation, for example how they have influenced your decisions, a process, or programme design.  Prompt feedback means incorporating time into your project plan to do this as a priority, rather than an afterthought. 

4. What engagement method or methods will you use?

Once you have worked through the planning guide you will be well positioned to choose an engagement method/s that will give you the best results.

Read more information about six methods for engaging with children. Having chosen the method, designed survey questions, arranged facilitators or other resources, and outlined a project plan, you will be able to undertake the next steps.

5. What are the consent and ethical issues you will need to follow?

There are consent and ethical considerations that you need to think about before you engage with children. Read the Consent and Ethical Considerations Guide that will help you to develop a process that keeps children and your organisation safe.

If you are engaging with children for research, for example, you could submit your plan to an established human ethics committee for feedback and approvals.

 6. How will you incorporate engagement into your wider project planning and budgeting?

Quality engagement with children requires time, specialist skills and resources. Ideally you will determine your timeframes and the engagement method/s that will give your organisation and children the best results. Once you have outlined your project plan, then you would work a budget around the timeframes and method/s.

However, this is not always possible and there will be times when your engagement options will be constrained by timeframes and resources. This is okay as long as you have addressed all of the areas in the planning guide.

We have provided you with an idea of some of the costs you need to think about when engaging with children.

 

 

How will you know you have been successful?

Your engagement process will have been successful if you end up incorporating children's views and needs in your policy, programme, or process. Importantly, the children will have enjoyed participating, and you will get positive feedback from them and users of the information.

As you develop your project plan, you can set key performance indicators that measure the benefits of your engagement with children, for example how well the policy, process or programme delivers particular needs of children. This should be embedded in your monitoring and evaluation programme. Business reporting that includes outcomes for children demonstrates your commitment to children's rights and wellbeing.