In 1995, a group of senior managers of public services in County Durham got together to discuss finding a new way to provide services to children, young people and their families. They were worried about a number of things. There was a very negative image of children and young people in the media - they were most often presented as a 'problem' for adults to manage. The various agencies which provide services to children and young people worked separately, when it would be more sensible if they could work together. Some children and young people were being left out, despite efforts to include everyone. And, most importantly, we weren't paying enough attention to what children and young people themselves had to say about things.
The outcome of these discussions was the Investing in Children Statement of Intent.
* Adults don't always know best, and that we must listen to, and learn from what children and young people have to say. This means creating opportunities for children and young people to have a voice in all decisions that affect them.
* Different organisations must be prepared to work together to do what's best. We need to break down professional and political barriers.
* We have to think hard to make sure that all children and young people get a fair chance and we won't make it difficult for some groups to get the best from the services available.
* We must think carefully about issues which don't seem directly to be about children and young people, but whcih might affect them.
Who is involved with Investing in Children?
Most importantly, children and young people themselves are at the heart of 'Investing in Children'. One of the things we have learned is that children and young people will often see things differently from adults, and part of Investing in Children's task is to make sure that their views are heard and treated with respect.
Organisations who provide services to children and young people are the 'partners' of Investing in Children. It is these organisations who provide the money to pay for the work. Partners include the Health Service, Education Departments, Social Services, the Police etc.
What does Investing in Children do?
Campaigning for change Investing in Children supports children and young people who are campaigning for change on issues that they have identified as important. This often means providing resources so that children and young people can research the issue, and create good arguments for change. We then support children and young people as they try to engage in dialogue with key adults. (Dialogue here means people getting together to talk about issues, and work things out).
Raising awareness Sometimes assumptions are made about children and young people which can lead to them being treated unfairly and in ways that ignore their human rights. Investing in Children supports children and young people to draw attention to these assumptions, and to carry on a debate about how things might be done differently.
Celebrating progress Investing in Children has a 'Membership Scheme' so that we can acknowledge and celebrate examples where children and young people are treated with respect and dignity. Schools, GP practices, leisure centres etc have gained Investing in Children membership by being able to show that the people working there are engaged in dialogue with children and young people, and this has resulted in change.
Providing Support Where it is clear that services want to develop ways of working that engage children and young people in dialogue, but aren't sure how to go about it, Investing in Children can provide support. We have a Staff Development programme, which doesn't tell people what they should do, but looks to support them whilst they develop 'action plans' through talking to children and young people.
Contributing to Policy Government, at National and Local level, are constantly reviewing and rewriting policy that effects children and young people. Investing in Children attempts to support children and young people to have a voice in this.
In all of our work we will take note of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Childrens Act 1989.
What is an Agenda Day?
An Agenda day is an adult free event ran by children and young people for children and young people. The aim of an Agenda day is to give children and young people the opportunity to have their say on issues important to them. An Agenda day can be run on any subject and is always steered by children and young people.