Disabled children and young people have the same rights as non-disabled children and young people to participate in decisions and issues that affect them.

The importance of the participation of disabled children and young people is reflected in both the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and more recently in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Despite this, disabled children and young people have fewer opportunities to participate in decision-making than their non-disabled peers. VIPER research tells us that many disabled young people are still being excluded from participation and decision-making opportunities. Basic access needs to support disabled young people's participation are not being met, and children and young people with higher support needs and communication impairments face significant additional barriers to participation.

Recent years have seen the introduction of significant policy and practice levers and duties that support disabled children and young people’s participation. Local authorities have expectations on them to support and involve children and young people to participate in decision-making. This includes decisions about their own support and care as well as local provision.

As the services disabled children and young people use change, it’s important that we ensure they have opportunities to shape and influence them. We can do that by asking, listening and responding to their views.

What are we doing about it?

At CDC, participation informs the way that we work and is an intrinsic part of everything we do. Our vision is that all organisations, agencies and services that affect children and young people will have structures and systems in place to respond to their ideas and priorities, and to work with them to bring about positive change. We believe that by supporting and training professionals in their participation practice and involving children and young people at key stages in our work, we can increase opportunities for participation and make our vision a reality.