The Department of Health has announced a Review of how social care services for children and families are delivered in Northern Ireland. The Review will take over a year to complete, and will be led by Professor Ray Jones, and supported by a professional Advisory Group.

It is really important that the review hears from young people with experience of these services. To make sure this happens, VOYPIC is setting up an Experts by Experience Reference Group.

This group will be made up of 15-20 young people, aged 14-25 years old, who have experience of the different children’s services being reviewed. These includes:

  • Early Years Services;
  • Family Support Services/ Family Intervention Service
  • Gateway Services;
  • Family Intervention Services;
  • Looked After Children’s Services (including residential care, foster care and kinship care);
  • 14/16+ Services (Leaving and After Care Services);
  • Adoption Services;
  • Personal social care services provided to children with a disability, including physical and sensory disability services, learning disability services, autism services, ADHD services and the provision of short breaks; and
  • CAMHS to the extent that those services integrate with wider Children’s Services to create a support system for vulnerable children.

The group will give young people with lived experience of these services and the care system the opportunity to have their say and help shape the future of children’s services. However, this is only one way that young people will be able to participate- over the course of the Review, there will be many other ways to get involved.

What exactly will the EBE Reference Group do?

The EBE Reference Group will play an important role in the Review of Children’s Services. 

For example, you will have the opportunity to: 

  • share opinions, ideas and experiences with the review team, including how the review should engage with other children, young people and families 
  • participate in discussions, and comment on and guide the Review’s recommendations 
Time commitment

About half a day per month for approximately 12 months.  There will be at least six half-day meetings of the EBE Reference Group, as well as meetings with the Review’s Advisory Group. Preparation meetings will be held online in before each EBE Reference Group meeting.


We hope that the EBE Reference Group meetings will take place in person, as long as public health restrictions allow us to. Preparation meetings will take place online. We will cover the cost of your travel to and from the meetings. 


Your experience, knowledge, ideas and input are valuable, so you will be paid a fee for each meeting. At the end of the process, you will also get a certificate of participation, to recognise your contribution to the Review.

Are there other ways to get involved?

The EBE Reference Group just one way the Review will hear the views of children and young people with lived experience of Children’s Services. We expect lots of interest in the EBE Reference Group and it is likely not everyone who applies will get a place. For those that do not get a place on the group there will still be many opportunities to directly contribute to this important Review. 

Details of these opportunities will be shared in the coming weeks and months, and anyone can sign-up to our mailing list to be kept informed about other opportunities and how to get involved. 


Where can I get more information?

If you have any questions about the EBE Reference Group, you are very welcome to contact Lee at VOYPIC. His email is, or you can call or text him on 07808777970.


Who can be part of the EBE Reference Group?

The group will be made up of 15-20 young people, aged 14-25 years old, who: 

  • Have lived experienced of one or more children’s service within the past 5 years. 
  • Can contribute respectfully alongside people who may have had very different experiences to yours and may hold different views.  
  • Are able to manage the responsibilities of the role alongside other personal commitments, and can attend all meetings of the group.  Meetings may be held on Saturdays.
  • Can represent the views of others with experience of care and children’s social care services.
  • Are passionate about improving the quality of services and support for children and families in Northern Ireland.
  • Are able to travel independently across Northern Ireland as required*

*Support with travel arrangements will be provided for young people with a disability and to those under 16 years of age where required. All reasonable out of pocket travel expenses will be reimbursed.

We want to make sure that the EBE Reference Group represents a wide range of voices. To help make this happen, we will be taking steps to ensure the group is diverse and representative, and look forward to seeing applications from young people from all backgrounds, cultures and experiences. 

How do I apply?

To apply to join the Experts by Experience Reference Group, please complete the Expression of Interest form and send it back to us by 5pm on Friday 4 March 2022. 

There are two ways to complete the form. Click the blue button below to download a Word version, which you can fill in and email back to us. Or click the yellow button to be taken to an online form which you can fill in and submit directly.


On the form you will be asked to give the name and contact details of an adult that can give a reference in support of your application.

What happens to my application?

A panel will read all the applications and decide who should be offered a place on the EBE Reference Group. When they are making the decision, they will try to make sure that the group is representative of:

  • HSCT areas (including rural and urban areas)
  • Age range
  • Gender
  • Experiences of different Children’s Services 
  • Cultural diversity

Remember, if you apply and are not offered a place on the EBE Reference Group- or if you decide not to apply for the Group- we still want to hear your experiences, views and ideas on the Review.

There will be other opportunities to share your views and ideas with the Review, and to meet with Prof Ray Jones, over the next twelve months. To make sure you get all the info about these opportunities, sign up to our special Children’s Social Care Services Review Mailing List by clicking the button below.


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