Theme 2 - Embedding Children’s Rights in Public Services
28. The consultation document suggests that, in order to achieve the greatest impact, incorporation of the UNCRC into Scots law should ensure that children’s rights are woven into policy, law and decision making. Children should be empowered to know and understand their rights, how to employ them and, if necessary, advance them in court. In considering Theme 2 of the consultation, the Group discussed measures that would oblige public authorities to mainstream children’s rights in their practice.
Children’s Rights Scheme
29. The Group considered provisions in the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011, which require Welsh Ministers to establish a Children’s Scheme, setting out the practical arrangements for ensuring compliance with the Welsh duty to have due regard to the UNCRC. A minute of the Group’s discussion can be found at Annex J.
- The majority of members of the Group considered that the development of a Scottish Children’s Rights Scheme could complement the existing children’s rights framework in Scotland and support the implementation of the proposed Scottish Bill to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots law.
30. Members of the Group suggested that consideration should be given to the development of a Scottish Children’s Rights Scheme including the following elements:
- Measures to promote practical awareness and understanding of children’s rights among rights holders and duty bearers.
- The Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (discussed further at paragraph 32).
- Measures to support public authorities and Scottish Ministers in considering the rights of children in budget planning and decision making.
- Procedures for ensuring that children and young people have access to a local complaints process with clear and accessible guidance.
- A system for mediation and early resolution to expedite the complaints process.
- Advocacy support for children and young people.
- A requirement for Ministers and public authorities to report on the steps they have taken, and intend to take, to promote an atmosphere of love, happiness and understanding, in line with the preamble to the UNCRC and the Outcome for Children in the National Performance Framework.
- A participative 3 years review cycle to provide an opportunity to update statutory guidance on new practices and understanding.
31. Some members of the Group also proposed that consideration should be given to:
- a requirement for child rights education to be provided in all educational establishments;
- how to provide parents and carers with appropriate information on children’s rights throughout the course of their child’s life and of how this is protective of family life; and
- how rights are embedded widely across the regulatory frameworks for public authorities.
The Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments (CRWIAs)
32. The Group considered whether the current non-statutory requirement for the Scottish Government to carry out a CRWIA on all new Scottish Government policies and legislation should be replaced with a statutory duty. A minute of the Group’s discussion can be found in Annex J.
- The majority of members of the Group considered that the use of Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments (CRWIAs) should be continued within any future Scottish Children’s Rights Scheme; and
- There should be a statutory requirement for CRWIAs to be undertaken on all new Scottish Government policies and legislation.
33. Some members of the Group suggested that consideration should be given to extending any possible statutory duty to undertake CRWIAs to include public bodies.
Preparation Time for Public Services
34. The Group considered how the Scottish Bill should be implemented so as to allow public authorities adequate time to prepare. This would be necessary whichever approach was taken to incorporation. A minute of the Group’s discussion can be found in Annex J.
- The majority of members of the Group considered that a clear timeframe should be provided to duty bearers to allow public authorities adequate time to ensure that services and policies are compliant with the UNCRC prior to commencement of provisions in the Scottish Bill.
35. Some members of the Group proposed that consideration should be given to:
- the potential costs of new duties on public bodies.
- how the Scottish Bill would align with other statutory obligations on public bodies.
- arrangements for consulting children and young people in the planning process for implementation of the Bill.