This report is an update to 'Do the Right Thing' - the Scottish Government's 2009 response to the 2008 concluding observations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Committee is next scheduled to consider our progress in 2014.
This report sets out the progress made in those priority areas the Scottish Government identified in 2009. It is also our formal response to Together Scotland's 2011 'State of Children's Rights' report and the UK Children's Commissioners' mid-term report on implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child ( UNCRC). Finally, it sets out some of the additional steps we have committed to since the publication of our original response.
Recognising, respecting and promoting rights is essential if we are serious about improving the life chances of our children and young people. Since coming into Government in 2007, Ministers have taken significant steps to improve the ways children and families are supported. Helping children and young people understand and exercise their rights has been central to making all of this a reality.
The UNCRC helps us all articulate what makes for a safe, healthy, happy childhood and a good start in life. It underpins our approach to children's rights in Scotland, providing us with a framework for ensuring we consider children's rights whenever we take decisions. It is also central to the wider work we are doing to improve outcomes for all children and young people through, for instance, the implementation of Getting it right for every child ( GIRFEC).
Children's rights are often described in abstract terms. But if we look at what we mean by rights for children and young people it quickly becomes clear how they can translate into the services and opportunities that we all should take for granted for them:
- Access to high quality healthcare, to education, and to additional support when needed.
- Protection from neglect and abuse, from substance misuse.
- Access to opportunities for play.
Yet, for many, rights still do not feel 'real'. This is something that Ministers are committed to changing.
Between now and 2014 we will continue to deliver improvements in those areas identified in both the initial action plan and this progress report. We will also deliver an ambitious piece of legislation which will help us to achieve some of the fundamental reforms necessary to ensure that Scotland is the best place in the world for children and young people to grow up.
We will continue to work with key stakeholders, including Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People and Together Scotland (The Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights) to monitor the progress we are making and to prepare for our next report to the UN Committee.
Following the election, Ministers set out an ambitious vision for Scotland's children and young people. Central to that vision is the need to deliver services and support in a way which:
- places children at the centre;
- engages and allows them to participate in all the decisions which affect their lives; and
- routinely seeks their consent to information being shared where necessary to improve their wellbeing and to ensure early intervention, when appropriate, can be provided.
This shift in approach encourages prevention and early intervention. It recognises the importance of support, particularly in the early years, and is essential if we are to achieve better realisation of rights in Scotland.
A number of key additional actions have emerged which the Scottish Government believes are necessary if we are to deliver Ministers' vision and increase momentum around the rights agenda and so over the coming period we will focus our attention in the following areas:
Implementation of Getting it right for every child
We continue to work closely with Community Planning Partnerships ( CPPs) across Scotland to drive the process of implementation, resulting in some level of progress with every CPP in Scotland. The degree of engagement and progress varies in scale and pace from area to area, but in each location progress is being achieved on implementing the core components of the Getting it right for every child ( GIRFEC) approach. Our intention is to bring forward legislation in 2013 which will add to the pace of change. Combined with the work already underway, the legislation will support us in advancing the five key elements of GIRFEC:
- the Named Person;
- the Lead Professional;
- the management of risks and concerns;
- a single planning process; and
- the National Practice Model.
These provide the framework which we believe is essential to make rights real for children in Scotland.
We are also working with the Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland to ensure GIRFEC principles are enshrined within the scrutiny of children's services. Scrutiny and self evaluation based on the core components of the Getting it right for every child approach will ensure that rights are respected and will be understood by children and young people.
Ensuring the systematic and consistent recognition of children's rights
We are committed to ensuring that children's rights feature in the planning, development and review of policies and services across Scotland.
In September 2011 we published a consultation paper on children's rights. The consultation indicated strong support for us to take steps to further strengthen our approach to children's rights. However, it also highlighted a lack of consensus about how this should best be achieved. Accordingly, we are keen to use the opportunity offered by the upcoming Children and Young People Bill consultation to better understand what legislation in this area could and should look like.
Based on the findings, it is our intention to bring forward legislative proposals on children's rights in Parliament in 2013.
Progress so far
In 'Do the Right Thing' we identified 21 areas for priority action as a direct response to the UN Committee's 2008 concluding observations. We agreed to take forward a number of commitments in each area over the short to medium term in order to better implement the UNCRC in Scotland.
The following pages set out in detail our progress so far in implementing 'Do the Right Thing'. They also formally respond to Together Scotland's 2011 'State of Children's Rights' report ( Annex A) and the UK Children's Commissioners' mid-term report on the implementation of the UNCRC across the UK ( Annex B).
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