Scrutiny Councillors champion Children’s Rights in Swansea

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Scrutiny Councillors in Swansea attended a seminar looking at the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and their role as champions for children’s rights in Swansea.

In Wales the Welsh Government has stated that all work with children and young people in Wales should be based upon the UNCRC.  In Swansea in September 2013 it was agreed that the UNCRC be embedded and become part of the Council’s Policy Framework.  A duty was placed on the Cabinet to have ‘due regard’ to the UNCRC when exercising its decision making functions in:

  • The formulation of new policies or strategies for the Authority
  • The review or amendment of existing policies or strategies of the Authority
  • The development, confirmation, or amendment of operational decisions that rest within the remit of the Cabinet

Why do children need additional rights?

  • They are more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation
  • Minimum legal ages
  • May be entirely dependent on adults
  • Adults may not always act in the best interests of children
  • Power dynamic in society and as service users
  • Children and young people often lack a voice

What is our role?

Duty bearers can include:

Parent or Guardian, other family members, teachers, doctors, social workers, local government, welsh assembly government, UK government

An example of this might be:

Pupil Attainment: All children have the right to learn and go to school.  Children should be encouraged to reach the highest level of education of which they are capable. Duty bearers in this case could be:

  • The Government has a responsibility to ensure that there are enough schools for children and that the curriculum is relevant to them and their lives.
  • The Local Authority has a responsibility to provide access to education.
  • The school has a responsibility to ensure a safe environment where children can learn.
  • The family has responsibility to ensure that the child turns up to school on time, is clothed, fed and, ready for lessons
  • Children can also be duty bearers and have responsibility to make sure that they do not disturb or upset other children when they are trying to learn.

What is the role of Scrutiny Councillors as Duty Bearers?

The Council’s Scrutiny Programme Committee is particularly interested in the way the Children Young People’s Rights Scheme has been implemented across the Council and its impact.  It was proposed at the seminar that an approach is developed to enable scrutiny to act as champions for children’s rights when assessing the work of the Council and that questioning strategies are developed to enable this.

Based on the guiding Principles of the UNCRC, the following questions are used to measure due regard in the Equality Impact Assessment

  1. Is the work being scrutinised designed/planned in the best interests of children and young people?
  2. Does the work being scrutinised:
    1. Foster good relationships between different groups
    2. Advance equality of opportunity between different groups
    3. Eliminate/reduce discrimination and/or social exclusion and how does it do this?
  3. Does the work being scrutinised contain adequate provision to safeguard those involve?
  4. Does the work being scrutinised offer resources, skills and contributions necessary for the survival and full development of children and young people
  5. What consultation and engagement has been undertaken? Does it meet the National Participation Standards for Children and Young People?

The meeting agreed that these should also be used in scrutiny but that they would need more refined for use in the scrutiny process.

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