Dr Anne Crowley

Honorary Lecturer

School of Social Sciences

Professional memberships

  • Children and young people's participation in public decision-making
  • Child Rights
  • Social Policy
  • Devolution and inclusive governance
  • International development and children's participation
  • Looked After Children
  • Child Poverty

PhD Research Synopsis

Title: Is Anyone Listening? The impact of children's participation on policy-making.

The thesis examines the impact of children and young people's participation on policy making in four settings, a youth forum and school council in Wales, UK and two examples of established participation structures in the international development context. The drive to include children as 'policy actors', as a legitimate group in the policy making process, has lead in Wales, and in much of the UK, to the burgeoning of youth forums and school councils. But evidence of the impact of children's public participation remains difficult to capture and little previous work has been done to evaluate the influence of children's forums on the design, delivery and evaluation of public services.

The research draws on theories of governance and power as well as the social construction of childhood to examine the policy influence that each of the forums had from the perspectives of the key stakeholders involved. The research makes a contribution to understanding the factors that enable or inhibit children's 'voice' being turned into policy 'influence'. Children's forums are more likely to affect changes in public services where there is clarity about objectives; where efforts are focused on well-understood policy or practice opportunities; and where there is close integration between child participation structures and similar structures targeting other civil society groups at a local level. The importance of policy networks and the linking of the children's resources with other influencing factors emphasises the important role of supporting adults in reflexively navigating the tensions in children's public participation.

The thesis calls into question whether anyone is really listening to children's views and opinions in the new governance spaces of a devolved Wales and argues that more needs to be done to insist on change and support children's claims to express their views and to have those views taken into account, in line with Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child..

The thesis is available at: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/27397/