7. Children's Rights (Criterion 9)
During the 2020-2023 Children's Services Planning cycle, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill was passed on 16 March 2021. On 6 October 2021, The Supreme Court ruled that some of the Bill's provisions lay outside the competence of the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government remains committed to the incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to the maximum extent possible as soon as is practicable.
While The Supreme Court judgment means the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill cannot receive Royal Assent in its current form, the majority of work on implementation of the UNCRC can proceed and is continuing at pace. The Scottish Government is working closely with public authorities, the Third Sector, and children, young people and families to implement the UNCRC with the intent of delivering a proactive culture of everyday accountability for children's rights across Scotland's public services. Children's Services Planning Partnerships and Children's Services Plan are key mechanisms through which to ensure the delivery of local services and supports is resulting in children and young people experiencing their rights as fully realised.
Analysis of Children's Services Plans found they all included aims to promote children's rights, and the vast majority of Plans (28 out of 30) were well aligned to the UNCRC. 10 Children's Services Planning Partnerships have included children's rights as a strategic priority.
One of the main actions to promote children's rights included in CSPs focussed on ensuring that children and families were actively involved in the development and evaluation of the CSP, and in local service-design, with their feedback taken into consideration. Good practice identified for this Criterion included involvement of children and young people in local recruitment processes and in interviewing candidates for a range of jobs that directly impacted them (two Plans) as well as involvement of children and young people in organisational budgeting of council funds (two Plans). Another common theme in CSPs was actions to raise awareness around children's rights among children and young people themselves, within schools, and across the wider workforce.
An example of best practice seen in several CSPs was the inclusion of specific examples of how CSPPs planned to promote children's rights locally. These included:
- Becoming a UNICEF accredited Child Friendly City
- Creating a Children and Young People's Charter engagement on Children's Rights
- Development of UNCRC resources
- Providing local youth participation opportunities and developing participation networks for children and young people
- Increasing the number of Rights Respecting Schools
- Organising youth summits/talks
- Specific action to enhance the rights of certain groups (i.e. young carers, children and young people with disabilities)
- Using Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments (CRWIAs) to evaluate involvement of children and young people in the design and delivery of children's services
- Promoting Champions Boards, Youth Forums, Youth Chamber Debates.
Some CSPPs offered training on UNCRC and children's rights, including learning and development opportunities for specific partners, within schools, and to the wider workforce. Two CSPPs had recruited a dedicated children's rights officer.
A number of Plans included mention of specific UNCRC Articles. An example of best practice identified was provision of a table in CSPs which linked strategic priorities, actions and intended outcomes to relevant UNCRC articles either within the main body of the Plan itself, or in an appendix.
The review of Children's Services Plans has highlighted a range of innovative practice by CSPPs across Scotland and a commitment within CSPs which demonstrates how partners are contributing to the realisation of children's rights in a number of ways. Details on delivery of universal services of health and education shows how specific rights are being upheld for all children, with targeted/specialist services upholding rights for groups of children with specific needs, such as those with care experience, unaccompanied asylum seeking children, or children in conflict with the law.
The Children's Services Strategic Leads Network has a keen interest in UNCRC implementation, and continued opportunities for UNCRC development activity to be actively informed by CSPPs will be proactively explored.
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