1. This non-statutory guidance is issued by Scottish Ministers to provide public authorities with information and advice about how they should fulfil the duties set out in Part 1 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (Duties of public authorities in relation to the UNCRC). The guidance seeks to establish best practice in relation to the implementation of these duties.
2. Part 1 (section 2) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 ("the Act") places a duty on a range of public authorities (including all local authorities and health boards) to report, "as soon as practicable" after the end of each 3 year period, on the steps they have taken to secure better or further effect of the requirements of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
3. The public authorities subject to this duty are listed in schedule 1 to the Act. They can satisfy the duty to publish a report in such manner as they consider appropriate - for example, through the preparation of a specific report, or by including relevant information in another report. Two or more public authorities can also satisfy this duty through the preparation and publication of a joint report.
4. To properly understand the duties set by Part 1 of the Act, individual sections should not be taken out of context or read in isolation from each other. The guidance is for those with responsibilities within public authorities for implementing and delivering on the provisions of the Act. This is likely to include strategic leaders and senior planning managers in health boards, local authorities and the other authorities listed in schedule 1. A table setting out the public authorities to which the Part 1 duties apply currently is attached at Appendix 1. (It is worth noting that this table could be amended by virtue of section 3 of the Act at some point in the future.)
5. Although children, young people and their families may wish to refer to this guidance, further information on the new duty on public authorities under Part 1 of the Act will need to be developed at the local level to support their understanding of the operation of the new provisions.
6. Section 2(1) of the Act requires an authority to which this section applies to publish its report "as soon as practicable after the end of each 3 year period". Section 2(2) provides that the 3 year period begins with the day on which section 2 comes into force. This section of the Act is due to come into force on 1 April 2017. The end of the first 3 year period will therefore be 31 March 2020. There is an ongoing duty to report after each subsequent period of 3 years.
Summary of the Contents of the Non-Statutory Guidance for Part 1
7. This overview provides signposts to specific aspects covered in this non-statutory guidance for Part 1 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act ("the Act"). Public authorities are encouraged to explore the detail of the guidance in order to inform their planning, activity and reporting.
Duty on public authorities to report on the UNCRC
8. Section 2 of the Act places a duty on those authorities listed in schedule 1 to report, "as soon as practicable after the end of each 3 year period", on the steps they have taken to secure better or further effect of the UNCRC requirements as defined in section 4(1) of the Act. (For the remainder of this guidance this is referred to as a "Children's Rights Report.")
9. This section of the 2014 Act is due to come into force on 1st April 2017. The first 3 year period will run from 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2020, when a report is due "as soon as practicable". For more detail, please see Overview of Part 1 and Appendix 1.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
10. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is one of the core international human rights treaties. It is a holistic framework for the rights of all children and a universally agreed set of minimum child rights standards. Governments are expected to do all they can to implement the UNCRC - to make sure all law, policy and decisions which impact on children from birth to 18 comply with their human rights. The UNCRC articles are interdependent - the mutually-reinforcing nature of children's rights means that civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights all have equal status and are indivisible. This guidance includes details on the UNCRC in the Introduction, Appendix 2 and Appendix 6.
Developing a Children's Rights Report
11. Before preparing a Children's Rights Report, public authorities are encouraged to consider the following aspects:
- the UNCRC assessment framework and its applicability for developing Children's Rights Reports (see A Framework for Children's Rights Reporting);
- a commitment to involving children and young people in preparing Children's Rights Reports (see A Framework for Children's Rights Reporting and Appendix 4);
- the child wellbeing indicators developed as part of the GIRFEC approach and their links with the UNCRC (see Appendix 3);
- the Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA), originally developed for the Scottish Government, which may offer a useful approach to local policy improvement (see Children's Rights Reports and Other Frameworks); and
- the potential links between the Part 1, section 2 duty to report on children's rights and Part 3 duties relating to Children's Services Plans (see Children's Rights Reports And Other Frameworks and Guidance for Part 3).
12. In order to produce Children's Rights Reports, public authorities should consider how they will establish baseline data on measurable outcomes that will inform the reports (see section on Process of Preparing a Children's Rights Report).
A Framework for Children's Rights Reporting
13. This guidance sets out a framework for reporting on children's rights (see A Framework for Children's Rights Reporting). The framework takes a child rights-based approach using clusters of the Articles of the UNCRC. A summary of each UNCRC cluster and associated Articles is set out in this section. At the end of each cluster "reflective statements" have been included to give examples of areas that public authorities may wish to report on. This framework represents one possible approach and authorities are not obliged to adopt it.
14. Engaging with children and young people is an essential component of the preparation of Children's Rights Reports, in line with a rights-based approach. This means that public authorities are expected to consider at an early stage how children and young people will be meaningfully involved, taking account of diverse experiences, views and circumstances. Approaches to involving children and young people are considered in the section Process of Preparing a Children's Rights Report and Appendix 4.
Format and publication of Children's Rights Reports
15. A suggested structure and format for reports is outlined in Publication of the Report. Reports should be produced in formats that are accessible to children and young people, families and other stakeholders in line with good practice and other requirements such as the Equality Act in relation to disability etc.
16. Public authorities should create opportunities for stakeholders, including children and young people, to scrutinise the findings of Children's Rights Reports and provide mechanisms for feedback.
17. Section 2(1) requires authorities to publish their reports. It is the intention of Scottish Government that they are made public. Authorities are not required to submit reports to Government directly. The Scottish Government may highlight activity within Scotland by reference to the reports, within both their own report to Scottish Parliament (Section 1(4)) and in their submission to the UK Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (see Scottish Government Role/Responsibilities).