Parenting News

Learnings from ‘Co-Production – Realising Parental Participation in Children’s Services’

We were delighted to host this event on the 12th of February exploring the topic of Co-production and Parental Participation in Children’s Services.

Thank you to all who attended and participated. The event triggered a considerable level of interest in exploring how services work with parents, engage with them, promote their participation and possibly even co-design and co-produce services to meet children’s and parent’s needs.

We are very grateful to all our speakers and an overview of their presentations can be found in the links below:

  1. John Sharry & Eileen Birchall – Co-producing the Parents Plus Special Needs Programme
  2. Gary Nash & Cahir Murray – The Dads Project – A lived Experience 
  3. Lucie Stephens – Co-production with Parents in Children’s Services: Reflections from the UK
  4. Catherine O’Donohoe – Parental Participation: The journey so far and future directions
  5. Helen Dunn – Co-Production in Action: A Northern Ireland perspective
  6. Mena Wilson & Thompson Best – Co-production in Action: A Northern Ireland Example

‘We shouldn’t ask why do co-production, ask why you wouldn’t’  Helen Dunn, Implementation Manager, Health and Social Care Board NI

Our panel of experts also shared their thoughts on parental participation and co-production :

  • Why it’s important and how do we achieve it?
  • What do we need to do to change how our services work with parents? 
  • How do we ensure parental participation and co-production are central to all services working with parents and their children?
  • Governance, leadership, legislation, training were all explored.
  • Policymakers and those commissioning services also play a part by placing participation and co-production central to the commissioning process – co-design outcomes with children and parents; social value as well as financial value; involve parents and children in procurement process!

Ensuring all parents can participate was explored and the panel highlighted the time required, the openness, the gentle engagement and building of trust to reach out to those parents who find engagement with services difficult. A key message and challenge for children’s services is how they can empower parents to participate.

Chaired by Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family, the panel discussion included:

Catherine O’Donohoe – Tusla

Helen Dunn – Health and Social Care Board NI

Áine Lynch – National Parents Council

Dr Carmel Corrigan – Office of the Ombudsman for Children

Catherine Joyce – Barnardos

We had great participation from all of those who attended and this is reflected in the presentation below when we asked the audience to consider what parental participation meant for them and what they would require within their working environment to make co-production happen.

Audience Participation Presentation 

Finally for anyone who couldn’t attend please check out the following videos from the day!

Video overview of the day

Video: Keynote presentation: ‘ Co-production with Parents in Children’s Services – Reflections from the UK’  by  Lucie Stephens, Head of Co-production, New Economics Foundation 

We hope to keep the conversation about parental participation and co-production alive over the coming months with additional resources and materials for you to consider. Do get in touch to share any learning!






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