Progressing the human rights of children in Scotland: action plan 2021 to 2024

This action plan details what we will do to further the rights of children for the next three years from 2021 to 2024.

Annex A

Further Details On The Children's Rights Scheme


The Scottish Ministers intend to publish a scheme setting out the arrangements that are in

place, or will be put in place, to ensure that they do not act incompatibly with the UNCRC requirements, and to secure better or further effect of the rights of children. This will be known as the 'Children's Rights Scheme'. As such, this annex summarises the arrangements the Scottish Government already has, or plans to undertake, as part of the Children's Rights Scheme, which are as follows:

1. Ensure that children are able to participate in the making of decisions that affect them, with access to such support and representation (for example from children's advocacy services) as they require to do so.

The Empowering Children and Young People Who Can Claim Their Rights strand is establishing a consortium of organisations to support a sustainable, meaningful and inclusive approach to participation of children and young people in decision making.

2. Identify and address any situation where a child's rights are (or are at a significant risk of) not being fulfilled

The Children's Rights Resolution strand will proactively work with colleagues across the Scottish Government on specific issues where more can be done for children's rights. We intend to strategically target those issues where we can go further to respect, protect and fulfil children's rights. We will work with Scottish Government colleagues and stakeholders on what additional resources are required in these targeted areas to ensure that children's rights are upheld. These issues will be identified through a variety of means such as:

  • Engagement with children and young people through the consortium of organisations, Executive Team and Cabinet Takeover events;
  • UN Committee on the Rights of the Child concluding observations, general comments, days of general discussion and procedures under the third protocol;
  • Together's State of Children's Rights report; and
  • Feedback from stakeholders such as the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman, Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland and Scottish Human Rights Commission on children's rights breaches and complaints from, or about, children where their rights were impacted.

3. Raise awareness of and promote the rights of children

We want all children in Scotland to know their rights, but it is clear that for many groups of children and young people, awareness and understanding is lower than it should be. To ensure that children, young people, their families and all Scottish society are aware of and understand the UNCRC, and to support them to be rights defenders, the Empowering Children and Young People Who Can Claim Their Rights strand will co-create a national awareness raising campaign for children's rights. We will also produce a wide range of information and guidance resources aimed at raising public awareness to increase individuals' understanding of children's rights.

We will explore the development of a Children's Right's Skills and Knowledge Framework to build capacity in public authorities. Learning from the Trauma Informed approach to upskilling workforces, the aim for this work is to implement a coherent and national offer for all public authorities to upskill themselves in taking a child's rights based approach to their practice/ service, to further enable them to act compatibly with the UNCRC, and to give further realisation to the rights of children and young people in Scotland. Given the breadth of sectors, workforces and responsibilities with regards to children's rights, a Children's Rights Skills and Knowledge Framework would establish a tiered-approach to capacity building, whereby practitioners are able to assess the level of knowledge they require for their role, and tools and content would be tailored accordingly. The Framework will continuously evolve to include new topics, updated examples of practice and refreshed materials and content.

We are developing a Children's Rights Innovation Fund that would provide financial support for innovative approaches to embedding children's rights in Scottish Society at a local level under a broader National Improvement Programme. The value of the Fund is currently being scoped. As well as creating a way for local practice to improve and innovate, the Children's Rights Innovation Fund will enable a community of practice of children's rights practitioners and champions to share good practice, and contribute to a national directorate of resources, case studies and support. The Innovation Fund will be available to public and third sector organisations.

4. Promote complaints handling procedures that children can understand and use

Incorporating the UNCRC will allow children and young people and their representatives, in future, to go to court to access their rights. However, we would want to avoid the need for that as far as possible to allow for issues to be resolved at local level. To allow this to happen, complaints procedures must be rights-based, accessible to children and young people, easily understood and supported.

We will support the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman, who has a statutory function in relation to complaints handling for most public bodies, to develop and implement child-friendly complaints approaches across public services in Scotland. These procedures will ensure children and young people can access complaints processes and that processes are centred around the needs of the child when a complaint is made on their behalf, or concerning them. This will include providing guidance, support and training to public bodies in developing and delivering child friendly complaints processes, as well as providing support for children and young people themselves, and those who support children and young people, in particular parents, guardians, third-sector organisations and advocates. In this way, children and young people will be better supported to access their rights.

5. Ensure that children have effective access to justice

In addition to targeted work to address issues where the Scottish Government can go further to uphold children's rights in Scotland and working with Scottish Public Service Ombudsman to promote and support child friendly complaints processes, we will work in partnership with stakeholders to identify and progress other areas which we know can currently hinder effective access to justice.

The Scottish Government has introduced an advocacy scheme within children's hearings and this is being extended to support siblings who also now have rights to participate in children's hearings from 25 July 2021. The Children (Scotland) Act 2020, when fully implemented, will improve how the voice of the child is heard in family cases. We will work with colleagues and stakeholders to further consider the provision of advocacy to children and young people who need it, support children in accessing their rights and the provision of child-friendly procedures.

The Scottish Government has consulted on the age of referral to children's hearings and there is clear support for change which provides further protection to 16 and 17 year olds in accessing their rights balanced with the rights of others. The Programme for Government commitment to a Care and Justice Bill will ensure that all under 18 year olds have their needs met through the Children's Hearings System if appropriate, allow for associated enhancements to that system, support changes in secure care and increase support for victims. The Scottish Government published a new Vision for children and young people in conflict with the law in June 2021. The Vision is rights-respecting and includes priorities around upholding the rights of all children, supporting them to actively participate and engage in decisions which affect them and that children are diverted away from the Criminal Justice System to appropriate alternative supports through the continued delivery of the Whole System Approach to preventing offending by young people.

6. Protect the rights of children in relation to their interactions with persons, other than public authorities, who provide services which affect children

The aims of the UNCRC Implementation Programme were broadened to include bringing about a fundamental shift in culture in Scottish society which will deliver a revolution in children's rights, not just in public services. We have included service providers in the independent and third sectors in the governance of the UNCRC implementation programme, including as members of the Strategic Implementation Board. We will continue to promote the importance and adoption of Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments (CRWIAs) amongst bodies other than public authorities, as well as continuing work to improve CRWIA training and develop an impact evaluation process. As part of the Children's Rights Resolution strand, we will consider where children's rights can be strengthened in services, both delivered by public authorities and by others.

7. Consider the rights of children in the Scottish Government's budget process

The Scottish Government, with the Scottish Parliament, have well established Budget setting and scrutiny arrangements that aim to ensure that decisions about revenue and capital expenditure and income are informed by both Ministers' statutory responsibilities and key delivery priorities and outcomes. The Scottish Government publishes an Equality and Fairer Scotland Budget Statement each year alongside its draft Budget for the year ahead. This document examines the impact of budgetary decisions across protected characteristics. The introduction of the CRWIA further ensures that policy officials within Government take account of the rights, wellbeing and views of children and young people in considering relevant policies and significant investment decisions.

We will continue to explore, across the Scottish Government and with stakeholders, the potential to spread more participatory budgeting practice and wellbeing and child rights-based approaches to budgeting to advance and secure children's rights in the budget process. This will include reviewing the lessons learned from case studies produced by UNICEF and the World Bank to help governments to introduce, or improve, the measurement, monitoring and reporting of public spending for children.

8. Ensure that Scottish Government actions contribute to any national outcome for children determined by them under Part 1 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015

It is critical that we are able to monitor and evaluate the delivery, aims and impact of the UNCRC Implementation Programme, whilst simultaneously linking progress in embedding children's rights to long term outcomes for children and young people. We are scoping the development of an Evaluation and Monitoring Framework to link action to impact, utilise existing data, and allow us to identify gaps in data which can then be addressed. The Framework will allow us to assess whether or not children's rights are protected, respected and fulfilled in Scotland.

9. Prepare and publish child rights and wellbeing impact assessments

The non-statutory Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA), which was introduced in 2015, seeks to ensure that all areas of the Scottish Government consider the possible direct and indirect impacts of proposed policies and legislation on the rights and wellbeing of children and young people. The views of children and young people are integral to the CRWIA process. Links to published CRWIAs prepared by the Scottish Government are, and will continue to be, made available on the Scottish Government's website.

The CRWIA is currently promoted across the Scottish Government as a key tool in thedevelopment of policy and is assisting officials, and other relevant organisations who choose to use this resource, to take a rights-based approach to the development of policies and services.

As part of the priorities under the Progressing the Human Rights of Children in Scotland Action Plan 2018-2021, we undertook a review of the CRWIA. This review has taken into consideration feedback from a range of internal and external stakeholders. As a result of this review, new templates and updated guidance have been published on the Scottish Government website here for anyone to use. We will continue to gather feedback from anyone using the templates and guidance to ensure it is continuously improved. Work to improve the CRWIA training and to develop an impact evaluation process for the CRWIA also continues. We will continue to encourage others to use the CRWIA as a way to implement children's rights in their work.

10. Use, and promote the use of, inclusive ways of communicating that ensure that children are able to receive information and express themselves in ways that best meet their needs (in relation to speech, language or otherwise)

The consortium of organisations to support a sustainable, meaningful and inclusive approach to participation of children and young people in decision making will help ensure the promotion and use of inclusive communication with children on the UNCRC Implementation Programme.

We will also produce child-friendly and accessible versions of guidance, rights reporting publications and other resources to ensure children and young people can receive information about their rights, and the duties on Ministers and public authorities in relation to their rights. This will include booklets, session plans, animated videos and other such mediums as requested by children and young people. We will also ensure information is communicated to children and young people from sources they trust, such as schools, and utilising the relationships they hold, such as parents and other trusted adults.



Back to top