UNCRC Implementation Embedding in Public Services minutes: 21 March 2022

Attendees and apologies

In attendance

  • Nicola Hughes (chair), Scottish Government – NH

  • Carola Eyber, Scottish Government – CE

  • Fraser Gorn, Scottish Government – FG

  • Eilidh Walker (minutes), Scottish Government – EW

  • Poppy Prior, Scottish Government – PP

  • Maria Doyle, Together Scotland – MD

  • Eloise Di Gianni, Observatory for Children’s Human Rights Scotland – EDG

  • Rebekah Cameron-Berry, COSLA – RCB

  • Darren Little, Dumfries and Galloway Council – DL

  • Morag Driscoll, Law Society of Scotland – MDR

  • Debby Wason, Public Health Scotland – DW

  • Jane Donaldson, Police Scotland – TJ

  • Dragan Nastic, UNICEF – DN


  • Juliet Harris, Together Scotland

  • Deborah Davidson, ADES

  • Susan Revie, Scottish Government

  • Lesleyann Russell, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

NH welcomed the group and invitied new members to introduce themselves.

Minutes and actions from previous meeting

Minutes from the previous meeting have been circulated with members and made available on the group page shortly thereafter.

Update on Theory of Change project

Eloise Di Gianni provided an update on the progress of the Theory of Change (ToC) project:

  • engagement phase has concluded and work is now focussed on refining the ToC and creating the final report
  • evidence reviews were commissioned on the 4 mechanisms of change to ensure the ToC is based on evidence. The team are now working on an evidence briefing which includes what organisations would have to consider and put in place to implement the UNCRC based on international evidence

The initial report will be submitted to SG on 31 March with a view of the final, external, report being available in May.

EDG outlined the key points of feedback from stakeholders:

  • including the meaningful participation of children and young people (CYP) to ensure the ToC can inform change
  • accountability for who delivers the ToC and how they will be held to account, whilst ensuring the load is shared within organisations
  • differing opinions from stakeholders around accessibility of the ToC, but pathways which help guide users through it, regardless of their  level of awareness or knowledge around the UNCRC should help make it a more usable resource

EDG noted content of the report will include an introduction with regards to its overall purpose in aiding implementation of the UNCRC, an introduction to how you engage with the ToC and a section around what Public Authorities (PAs) need to do next and what this means for implementation.

Feedback from the group included:

  • in relation to the part on who is accountable, what kind of redress procedures are in place? We can proceed with our work on the guidance now and can cover a lot of ground on the topic of accountability, including the types of redress. However, there are some aspects of this topic that will depend on the outcome of the revision of Section 6 of The Bill

DW noted that various types of redress have been looked at. The things coming out of the ToC evidence review show that we need to look at the full range of redress options, such as complaints, and not just consider redress as a formal or legal process. It would be very helpful going forward if relevant people either in this group or other groups could look into how they see redress, remedy and complaint procedures working in their organisations. This is an area where the legal framework has not been agreed yet but that does not mean that organisations cannot institute their own procedures.

Together Scotland's State of Children's Rights report

Maria Doyle provided a summary of Together’s State of Children’s Rights Report, which was launched on Wednesday 2 March 2022.

Together provide yearly reports showing how Children’s Rights (CR) are being respected and fulfilled across Scotland and any gaps in relation to this. This year’s report focuses on the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill (the Bill) and what that means for PAs.

The report is structured around the topics of the Children’s Rights Scheme (CRS), with each chapter including examples of good practice in implementing the UNCRC. Easy read and child friendly versions of the report have been produced to promote inclusive communication and Together are currently working on animations to go alongside each of the chapters.

MD noted that feedback on the report has been predominantly positive with importance placed on the message around CR being everybody’s responsibility. Many organisations found the case studies on promising practice to be a useful tool in understanding what implementing the UNCRC means in practice.

MD noted that Together have encouraged organisations to share examples of both good practice and areas for improvement - organisations are often tentative in sharing areas that didn’t go to plan and what actions were taken to combat this.

DW noted that through the ToC they found that people wanted safe spaces in which they could be honest to talk about these difficulties. Members agreed that language is important in creating a safe space for organisations to reflect on examples of practice that didn’t go as planned and what steps they could take to improve on this. A shift in language to talking about “areas of improvement” rather than mistakes, particularly in the context of CR, could help to encourage those less likely to come forward.

Projects conducted by the Improvement Service

Rebecca Spillane provided an introduction to work being undertaken by the Improvement Service (IS):

  • champion for embedding CR in Local Authorities, ensuring work is spread and not focussed solely on Children’s Services
  • delivery of a series of national improvement projects to enable Local Authorities (LAs) to deliver high quality services within Scotland. Also looking at practical activities that are underway locally to provide support and be able to see how they can be expanded to ensure CR are real
  • advocating for the inclusion of children and young people’s voices in service delivery and design
  • developing a collaborative learning approach to develop safe spaces to be able to celebrate success
  • knowledge Hub for materials relating to CR and the UNCRC

JD asked whether the work of the IS coincides with the Skills and Knowledge Framework?

NH noted SG and IS are currently making links across various policy areas e.g., around poverty, Early Learning and Childcare and Trauma but that the work of the Framework sits within her team. The Framework is structured understanding that service providers have different needs in relation to CR. Whilst everyone is responsible for CR, there are differences in levels of responsibility and accountability at different levels of the workforce, so the framework is designed to cater to those differing levels and is structured so as not to be prescriptive.

Guidance Sub-Group

Carola Eyber provided an update on the Embedding in Public Services Guidance Sub-group, which focuses on guidance relating to Parts 2 and 3 of the Bill. The group had their first meeting on Tuesday 15 March during which the key ways of working and aims of the group were discussed.

Key takeaways from the group’s first meeting were:

  • guidance needs to be fit for purpose to assist PAs in understanding what compatibility entails. It was agreed that the need for a mechanism or tool to assist with reviewing compatibility with the UNCRC requirements (as defined in the Bill) was most important and the priority for the group
  • CE reaffirmed that SG’s intention is to produce universally applicable guidance which will contain suggestions for how to review for compatibility in general
  • guidance is likely to create a blueprint that is within the remit of the Bill but that this is the starting point to enable further sector-specific guidance to be produced

CE will share a short options paper with the sub-group that outlines different draft models of compatibility review tools in relation to the Bill. CE noted that whilst The Bill specifies that first reports are due at the end of March 2023, SG understand remedial work may make this timescale challenging and that solutions are being considered. SG will update the group as soon as possible in relation to what options are available.

Updates on a number of key projects

Skills and Knowledge Framework

Tender for the framework will likely be out mid-April with the contract commencing in August 2022 and running to March 2024. Once a supplier is in place indicative development timelines suggest that initial research and recommendations will be supplied by December 2022. The first batch of content will be produced in March 2023 with the first framework produced in September 2023. The last 6 months will be utilised for refinement and additions.

A one page report for the framework was presented to the SIB for feedback in February and key feedback included:

  • the need to include reference to legislation beyond the UNCRC Bill which supports CR in Scotland
  • recognising the limitation of training and resources to lead to meaningful change in practice (with some members of the group suggesting consideration of other ways to embed training and learning such as coaching and mentoring)
  • considering how this work can complement other approaches which would support children’s rights in relation to the public sector workforce, such as recruitment and professional qualifications
  • highlighting the risks associated with such a broad scope
  • the need to consider how this will support the awareness raising objectives of the implementation programme, and links to the CRS

Members noted that some PAs hoped that some activities surrounding the framework would help them upskill their staff now. Whilst acknowledging and understanding that work to create a framework takes time and needs a considered approach, PAs are aware of the wealth of information already available and are having to spend time searching for materials themselves. Is there something SG can help with in the interim?

CE noted SG are aware of the length of timescales and that this may mean PAs undertake some capacity building work in advance of the Framework being available. The aim is for outputs from the development of the framework to be shared as soon as possible. SG will consider what can be shared in the immediate term to assist PAs in upskilling their workforce.  

RS noted interest in linking in with members of the group around what PAs have voiced about training materials and where work can weave together.

Innovation Fund

Preparation for procurement of a fund administrator is now at an advanced stage with the ITT provisionally scheduled to go live on 31st March with projected contracting in June.

Feedback received from SIB deep dive sessions include queries around whether the fund eligibility should allow universal projects or be targeted at children furthest from their rights. The current proposed eligibility of the fund would allow for both. The Strategic Implementation Board are being asked to consider feedback and provide their views.

National Improvement Programme

Work conducted by IS on self-evaluation resources is progressing with first options being presented this week for discussion with the consultant and a final paper will be produced in April 2022.

Working Together Group

The Working Together Group is the collective name for grant holding partners working to deliver aspects of the UNCRC Implementation Programme. The Terms of Reference for the group is due to go to stakeholders for approval and work is ongoing with IS to convene a first meeting of the group in late April.

Child friendly animation for guidance

Fraser Gorn provided an update on the child friendly animation that will sit alongside the introductory guidance and reporting duties under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

A contract will be issued this week, with a May deadline for the animation being available. The team have currently had some feedback from young carers and parents at Parent Network Scotland on the range of projects being delivered by the Embedding Team within SG, and will be working with Partners in Advocacy to ensure children and young people are involved as co-producers of the animation.

Reporting duties

SG are currently working on planned communication to distribute to listed public authorities with regards to the emergency provisions under the Coronavirus (Extension and Expiry) (Scotland) Act 2021. Provisions have been extended until September 2022. Reports under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 are due as soon as practicable but can be delayed until September in certain circumstances. Once the Bill is commenced, reporting duties under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 will be replaced by new duties under the Bill.

Comments received from the group were:

  • do we have confidence in the number of PAs that have published their 2017-2020 reports going forward into the new cycle? Have we reached those that haven’t published?

NH noted that whilst SG encourage PAs to notify SG of publication, or their intent to delay, there is no obligation on them to do so. SG routinely check for reports or statements but are unable to confirm what the exact position is in relation to which PAs have reported.

Reports produced under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 don’t currently have a fixed deadline, they are to be produced ‘as soon as practicable’. SG have sent out periodic communications regarding these reports and are very conscious that PAs may not have the capacity to produce the reports at present. 

NH noted it would be beneficial to understand whether reports are not published because PAs are unaware of their duty to report, whether they are working toward publishing as soon as practicable or are utilising the extension legislation, so support could be offered as needed.


Aidan Flegg has now completed his internship with SG and we are scoping what support he may be able to provide in the future. In the meantime, we are sharing Together’s webinars, particularly the 4th which includes Child Right’s Budgeting (CRB), the link to which can be found here: State of Children's Rights Webinar series for 2021 | Together Scotland

DL noted an event that had taken place between Perth and Kinross Council and Northern Star, which may be of interest to those looking for further information relating to CRB.

DN noted that UNICEF have more resources relating to CRB that can be shared with the group.

Action: DN to share further materials relating to Children's Rights budgeting.

DL noted that local government elections provide an opportunity to raise the profile of incorporation and implementation.

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday 25 April.

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