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Children's Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment guidance

Published: 19 Nov 2021

Guidance on how to complete a Children's Rights and Wellbeing Screening Sheet and Impact Assessment (CRWIA). Includes links to useful resources for gathering evidence, involving children and young people in the development of your policy/measure and ensuring decisions are necessary and proportionate.

Children's Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment guidance
Children's Rights & Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA)

Children's Rights & Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA)

During the Screening exercise, you will have identified the policy/measure and undertaken a preliminary assessment of how and to what degree it will affect children and young people, or specific groups of children and young people, in Scotland.

The CRWIA asks you to consider 9 questions:

1. Which articles of the UNCRC does this policy/measure impact on?

The UNCRC is a set of minimum standards with which a government must comply through its laws, policies and administrative activities. The different Articles are interdependent – all areas of rights have equal status and are indivisible.

Annex 1 in the CRWIA template provides summary versions of the Articles of the UNCRC. The four general principles of the UNCRC underpin all other rights in the Convention, and should always be considered in your assessment. You should also identify the individual rights you consider most relevant to your policy/measure (e.g. right to be protected from violence, right to education, health, play and recreation, an adequate standard of living), and rights applicable to groups of children and young people who may share specific characteristics and require special protection and assistance (e.g. young children, trafficked children, disabled children, migrant children, children living in poverty, children in care, young people who offend).

Where relevant, it is also important to refer to the two Optional Protocols to the Convention ratified by the UK Government: the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, and the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

2. What impact will your policy/measure have on children's rights?

Refer to Annex 1 of the CRWIA template to assess whether the policy/measure meets the requirements of each relevant Article of the UNCRC. Remember these are minimum standards for compliance with the UNCRC. You may find it helpful to check whether the Committee has provided interpretive guidance on that Article, or the policy issue, in its General Comments on the UNCRC (Annex 2).

CRWIAs may cover a range of related proposals that come under a single policy heading, so will benefit from a separate assessment of each proposal measured against UNCRC requirements.

There are three types of potential impact:

1. Negative impact
i) The policy/measure may impede or actually reverse the enjoyment of existing rights, requiring mitigating measures be put in place;
ii) The policy/measure fails to comply with UNCRC and other human rights obligations, requiring modification of the proposal;
iii) The policy/measure may have a detrimental impact on children, so should be withdrawn and alternatives presented.

2. Positive impact
i) The policy/measure complies with UNCRC requirements;
ii) The policy/measure makes changes recommended by the UN Committee;
iii) The policy/measure has the potential to advance the realisation of children's rights in Scotland.

3. Neutral impact
i) The policy/measure brings no discernible lessening of or progress in children's rights or their wellbeing.

If you detect potential issues about compliance, you should also assess the policy/measure in the wider context of Scotland's human rights obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 and relevant international instruments. You can find further information on these in the Scottish Government's Children's rights legislation in Scotland: a quick reference guide.

3. Will there be different impacts on different groups of children and young people?

The CRWIA may reveal disparities in impact between different groups, or in relation to different measures outlined in the CRWIA. When competing interests are involved, the CRWIA should recognise and record these differential impacts to ensure transparency in the decision-making process. If any of the potential impacts are negative, that must be recorded.

  • Different levels or types of impact on different groups of children and young people should be recorded in the CRWIA;
  • The Articles of the UNCRC are applicable to all children and young people, no matter what their circumstances. The State also has a duty to provide special protection and assistance to those children and young people who require it;
  • Competing interests between different groups affected by the policy/measure;
  • What is good for one group of children and young people may adversely affect another, or there may be tensions between what promotes children's rights and wellbeing and the interests of parents/carers, service providers and/or professionals. Under the UNCRC, the best interests of the child must be given primary consideration;
  • Conflicting conclusions from different impact assessments;
  • Sometimes, the findings in CRWIAs may conflict with those in EQIA and other impact assessments. Impact assessments undertaken in isolation risk missing or underestimating the cumulative impacts of major change on different groups. Identifying these should lead to consultation between the different policy leads to ensure that the assessments are based on the best evidence possible, and that the decision-making process is transparent.

Case example: Different impacts on different groups of children

In its section on the use of Nicotine Vapour Products (NVPs), the Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. and Care) (Scotland) Bill CRWIA identified different groups of children who would benefit from measures to introduce a minimum age of 18 for the sale of NVPs: children and young people who smoke or want to take up smoking; and young people under 18 who work in premises selling these products. In the case of the latter group, the CRWIA reported that the measures in the Bill would allow authorised young persons to sell these products unsupervised, but that they must be trained, supported and confident in challenging the age of their peers, or those who are older than them. The aim of this safeguard was to encourage retailers to continue employing young people whilst ensuring they receive the support they need to make responsible sales.

4. If a negative impact is assessed for any area of rights or any group of children and young people, can you explain why this is necessary and proportionate? What options have you considered to modify the proposal, or mitigate the impact?

You will need to give careful thought to whether any negative impacts are necessary and proportionate when weighed against the purpose of the policy. For example, are you clear that the public benefits demonstrably outweigh the negative impacts and that your proposals are both justified by evidence, and have the least possible impact on the enjoyment of the rights in question? Again, you can expect to be asked to present evidence, and where possible to have consulted with those groups and communities most likely to be affected.

If the assessment indicates a negative impact, you must present options for modification or mitigation of the original proposals. Options should be proportionate, refer to any potential resource implications associated with the change in policy, and indicate how the proposed change(s) will result in a positive impact on children's rights.

Case example: Assessing a negative impact & listing options for modification or mitigation of the policy/measure

Although the Development of a Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy CRWIA identified a range of positive impacts when looking at creating a digital learning strategy to support the Curriculum for Excellence, it also identified potential and unintended negative impacts in relation to safety and health issues. The CRWIA listed three options that were considered to mitigate the potential negative impact in relation to internet usage safety –leading to additional safeguarding responsibilities being given to local authorities and education establishments – and two options to mitigate the potential negative impact in relation to a child's right to health. The CRWIA recorded that, in respect of the risk that increased use of digital technology may harm a child's health, it was decided that no action should be taken in recognition that the evidence to date is inconclusive. However, it also recommended that evidence in this area continue to be monitored and reviewed on a regular basis.

5. How will the policy/measure give better or further effect to the implementation of the UNCRC in Scotland?

In order to help you assess this, you should check minimum standards set out in the Articles of the UNCRC (Annex 1 on the template); whether any relevant recommendations were made by the UN Committee in its Concluding Observations (Annex 2); and whether the Committee has provided interpretive guidance on that Article, or the policy issue, in its General Comments on the UNCRC (Annex 2 ). Your assessment may reveal that the policy/measure not only complies with the Articles of the UNCRC but takes things further and helps progress the realisation of children's rights in Scotland – i.e. gives better or further effect to the UNCRC in Scotland.

CRWIAs can provide a means to record that policy development. Their findings can inform the report Scottish Ministers must lay before the Scottish Parliament every three years to set out what they have done to fulfil their children's rights duties under Part 1 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, and what they intend to do over the next three-year period.

Case example: How CRWIA can support the duty to give better or further effect to the UNCRC

The Scottish Government's Young Carer's Grant (Scotland) Regulation 2019 CRWIA supports the duty to give better or further effect to the UNCRC. It was announced in 2016 that Scottish Government would consider the introduction of a Young Carer's Allowance to provide extra support for young people with significant caring responsibilities. Officials gathered evidence from a range of sources to identify options for a Young Carer's Allowance. This included mapping existing provision, consideration of existing evidence and wider Scottish Government policies, discussions with Stakeholders in the Young Carer's Allowance Working Group, and a review of the responses to the Social Security in Scotland consultation. Young Carer Grant was announced in 2017. It was co-designed with children and young people through a Young Carers Panel which provided a platform for youth volunteers to take part in a range of research opportunities to help shape Young Carer Grant. The YCG policy will have a direct positive impact on young carers and an indirect positive impact on disabled children and young people. It will enhance a range of children's rights and should lead to positive wellbeing outcomes.

6. How have you consulted with relevant stakeholders, including involving children and young people in the development of the policy/measure?

As part of the CRWIA process, officials should ensure that children and young people's views and experiences are sourced, included and recorded, and make it clear how these views have informed the children's rights and wellbeing analysis, and the CRWIA's conclusions/recommendations.

Participatory policy-making is at the heart of human rights frameworks. Anyone who will be affected by the policy/measure should be given the opportunity to present their views. This includes children and young people, their parents/carers, organisations which work with them, the practitioners who will affected by the policy changes, and public or private bodies expected to deliver the policy changes. Under s.1(2) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, Scottish Ministers must

'. . . take such account as they consider appropriate of any relevant views of children of which the Scottish Ministers are aware.'

The Ministerial duty is supplemented by a Scottish Government expectation that, where children and young people's views are not known on a matter that is likely to have an impact on them, steps should be taken to obtain their views.

Consultation with children and young people can take place using one or more of the following methods:

  • Adding specific questions to a broader public consultation;
  • Targeted promotion of public consultations to children and young people through relevant websites, schools/colleges, social media – ensuring that consultation materials are written in a style that is accessible to and suitable for children;
  • Making use of existing consultation mechanisms through rights, participation and youth work organisations/structures (including, e.g. the Children's Parliament, Young Scot, the Scottish Youth Parliament, and YouthLink Scotland, as well as local youth councils, pupil councils, young person-led organisations);
  • Setting up/commissioning public consultations with children and young people to gather their views on the proposed measure;
  • Commissioning targeted consultations with the specific groups of children and young people who will be affected by the proposed measure, e.g. children in care and care When and how to best use the Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA): Guidance 15 leavers, traveller children and families, children affected by domestic violence, children in hospital etc.

For the purposes of the CRWIA, the consultation must specifically ask about the policy's potential impact on children and young people, and their rights under the UNCRC. Where direct consultation is not possible, consider the following:

  • Relevant published research that involved and collected the views of children and young people;
  • A re-analysis of children and young people's responses to a recent consultation that is relevant to this policy area;
  • Sending out a 'call for evidence' to service providers to ask them for any unpublished or difficult-to-locate information they have collected on the views and experiences of the children and young people who use them;
  • Asking organisations which work with or on behalf of children and young people to submit the views of those they work with - this is particularly useful to identify case study information, or the experiences of groups of children and young people living in particular circumstances;
  • Looking at inspection reports that reflect the views of children and young people;
  • Citing relevant case law involving children and young people.

However, existing evidence may need to be supplemented. Where there is insufficient, contradictory or only anecdotal evidence, you will have to decide whether you are able to make a well-informed assessment of the potential impact without commissioning further research and/or consulting with children and young people, and other stakeholder groups, to fill that evidence gap. The reasoning behind your decision should be recorded in the CRWIA. If a consultation or the opportunity to work more collaboratively with children and young people are not possible at this stage of the CRWIA, additional efforts should be made to ensure children and young people are involved at a later date as part of the monitoring and review of the policy/measure.

This Scottish Government resource provides more information on participation of children and young people in decision-making. The ChildrensRightsandParticipation@gov.scot is available if you have any questions regarding children & young people's participation.

Case example: Ensuring children's views inform the development of the policy/measure

The Stop and Search Code of Practice (Appointed Day) (Scotland) Regulations CRWIA informed the drafting of two consultation papers – one on the Code of Practice on Stop and Search, and the other on whether police should have powers to stop and search children and young people for alcohol. An 'easy-read' summary of the consultations were produced to encourage children and young people to respond. The consultation papers also invited people to contact the Scottish Government if they wanted someone from the Government to visit their organisation to talk about the consultation and to hear their views and/or the views of the young people with whom they work. Several organisations took up this offer. Scottish Government officials also met with representative organisations including the Children's Parliament, Scottish Youth Parliament, Young Scot, Who Cares? Scotland, and Children in Scotland.

7. What evidence have you used to inform your assessment?

CRWIAs aim to ensure reasoned and evidence-based policy and decision making that takes into account the rights and wellbeing of children and young people. The UNCRC requires governments to ensure they collect and have access to data on children's lives that covers all areas of rights. You are looking for a combination of quantitative and qualitative data that provides information on, for example:

  • The numbers and groups of children and young people who will be affected by the policy/measure;
  • The views and experiences of children and young people who will be affected by the policy/measure;
  • Service data from other agencies or services that will be affected, and their views on the proposals.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends the:

'collection of sufficient and reliable data on children, disaggregated to enable identification of discrimination and/or disparities in the realisation of rights . . .' (para.48, General Comment 5 on the General Measures of Implementation of the UNCRC).

This means, where possible, you should identify the age, gender, ethnicity, (dis)ability, and deprivation levels of the children and young people who will be affected since there can be different levels or types of impact on different groups. This will help you identify where there are gaps in the evidence.

As noted above, where there is insufficient, contradictory or only anecdotal evidence, you will have to decide whether you are able to make a well-informed assessment of the potential impact without commissioning further research. If you identify that there are important gaps in the evidence, you should discuss this with analytical colleagues to help you address the gap.

Some helpful sources of evidence can be found through the following links.

statistics.gov.scot : National Performance Framework

www.equalityevidence.scot

Child Health | Home | Health Topics | ISD Scotland

Covid19ELCandHubs | Tableau Public

Children and Young People Data on Tableau Public

statistics.gov.scot | Find Datasets

Homepage | Research Data Scotland

The reasoning behind your decision to undertake further evidence gathering or not should be recorded in the CRWIA.

Case example: Identifying and addressing gaps in the evidence

When reviewing the available evidence on NHS complaints, the NHS Model Complaints Handling Procedure CRWIA noted that NHS complaints statistics are not disaggregated by the age of the patient/complainant. This led to a recommendation that the views of children and young people who complain about NHS services in Scotland are routinely sought as part of a revised complaints data set, and that this information is used to inform continuous improvement to the procedure.

8. How will the impact of the policy/measure be monitored?

As part of the normal decision-making process, the implementation of the policy/measure should be monitored.

The Wellbeing Indicators can be a really useful tool for measuring the impact of a policy/measure. This section asks you to set out plans for measuring the impact of your policy/measure, including how it will support public bodies in Scotland to meet their duties to safeguard, support and promote the wellbeing of children in their area, Further information on the links between UNCRC Articles and wellbeing indicators can be found here: Guidance on Part 1, Section 2 (Duties of Public Authorities in relation to the UNCRC) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

The concept of wellbeing is outcomes-focused, with positive wellbeing the intended result of child-centred practice. It is part of Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) – Scotland's national approach to improving the wellbeing and life chances of children and young people. It applies not only to children's services but other services that nevertheless affect children and young people, all of which are required to safeguard, support and promote the wellbeing of children in an integrated and efficient manner (s.9(2) Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014).

'Wellbeing' is defined in s.96(2) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, through eight non-hierarchical and interconnected indicators, sometimes known as SHANARRI. Like the Articles of the UNCRC from which they were developed, the SHANARRI indicators focus on the whole child.

  • Safe: Protected from abuse, neglect and harm by others at home, at school and in the community;
  • Healthy: Having the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health, access to suitable healthcare, and support in learning to make healthy and safe choices;
  • Achieving: Being supported and guided in their learning and in the development of their skills, confidence and self-esteem at home, at school and in the community;
  • Nurtured: Having a nurturing place to live, in a family setting with additional help if needed or, where this is not possible, in a suitable care setting;
  • Active: Having opportunities to take part in activities such as play, recreation and sport which contribute to healthy growth and development, both at home and in the community;
  • Respected: Having the opportunity, along with carers, to be heard and involved in decisions which affect them;
  • Responsible: Having opportunities and encouragement to play active and responsible roles in their schools and communities and, where necessary, having appropriate guidance and supervision and being involved in decisions that affect them;
  • Included: Having help to overcome social, educational, physical and economic inequalities and being accepted as part of the community in which they live and learn.

An example of how the Articles of the UNCRC could be mapped to the Wellbeing Indicators is shown below. N.B. The Articles of the UNCRC can be mapped under more than one wellbeing indicator.

 Wheel that maps UNCRC Articles with SHANARRI wellbeing indicators

9. How will you communicate to children and young people the impact of the policy/measure on their rights?

It is good practice to make children and young people aware of the potential impacts of a new policy/measure and what you've tried to do to mitigate any potentially negative impacts.

If you have engaged children & young people throughout the development of your policy/measure it's really important to feedback to them about how their views have influenced the policy/measure.

Where possible, we also recommend publishing a child-friendly version of your screening sheet and CRWIA to improve transparency and accessibility.


Contact

Email: CRWIA@gov.scot