Lack of participation from children is one of the main challenges in the Norwegian child protection system. The PARTICIPATION project will look at how children are involved and heard in child protection. What is the practice today, what can be done better, and what new tools can be used to ensure better participation from children in the future? The project will look at the practice of children's participation both in the municipalities, the county boards and in the courts. The project will also include international perspectives on children's participation, and look at how Norway implements children's right to participation compared to other countries. PARTICIPATION is coordinated by the DIPA-center at the University of Bergen, in collaboration with Bergen Municipality, the Central Unit for the County Boards, the Court Administration and the Change Factory.
Recent decades have brought children on to the societal agenda in new ways, and we observe that children in many societies are increasingly regarded as individuals with separate interests and rights as laid out in the worldwide ratified Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Children’s right to participate in matters affecting them is a fundamental right in the CRC. It is an unequivocal principle that at the outset should be fairly straightforward for governments, the judiciary and public authorities to implement and realize, and especially in the child protection system in which the reason for state interventions is the best interests of the child. Still, reports from children themselves and research shows that children are not involved and do not participate as the Convention and the laws prescribe. The question that must be answered is why this is the case, and how to fulfill the legal requirement and political ambition of children's participation in the child protection system.
PARTICIPATION is a collaborative knowledge project with ambitions to make groundbreaking steps in the understanding and implementation of children’s participatory rights. It is a partnership between researchers at the University of Bergen, DIPA-Centre, and four partners from the child protection system: 1) The County Social Welfare Boards, 2) The Norwegian Courts and their Administration, 3) Bergen municipality and 4) The Change Factory (Expert by Experience). By bringing together different perspectives, knowledge, and experiences - and studying organizational practices, PARTICIPATION will generate new knowledge, develop new measures and build research expertise that enables society to address the challenge of children's participation.
The Child Equality Perspective (CEP) forms the theoretical foundation of the project, and The Child Participatory Action Research (CPAR) secures children’s active involvement throughout the project.