To help frame the discussion, an initial public survey was conducted, and its results published. A large number of responses confirmed the Board’s view on the importance of the policy matter. A number of experts in the field were asked to provide short scoping papers and the board used its internal expertise to devise a consultation structure. This structure is called a “policy kitchen” and is at the heart of The Policy Lab process. Volunteer facilitators for the policy kitchen sessions came from the wider interest group.
All kitchen sessions were held online and they attracted very engaged and committed people who wanted their concerns and potential solutions to be heard and considered. As the summaries of the kitchens emerged, it quickly became clear that there was an appetite for real innovation among citizens and a strongly felt desire to bring real change to the policies associated with Care of the Child in Ireland.
From among those who attended the kitchens, the Board sought the additional assistance of those prepared to work on a task force to oversee the final policy paper. This group was particularly effective in reviewing the initial paper and in identifying any areas that emerged in the kitchens. The experts who prepared the scoping papers were also asked to review the emerging document.