Today is Universal Children’s Day, marking the day in 1989 that the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.

The rights in the UNCRC are at the heart of everything we do towards delivering our vision of a Scotland where all children and young people are supported to live happy and successful lives, on their own terms.

Here’s a quick rundown of how our work contributes to delivering the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The right to have their views considered

Article 12: States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

Since our inception the voice of care leavers has been at the heart of everything we do. In 2002 the Debate project saw 80 young people leaving care get involved in events and discussions with service providers, policy makers and politicians. More recently, The Voices project has supported a group of young people who are passionate about leading change for themselves and other care experienced young people. You can read their 2016 report here.

Care services should conform to established standards

Article 3 (3): States Parties shall ensure that the institutions, services and facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall conform with the standards established by competent authorities, particularly in the areas of safety, health, in the number and suitability of their staff, as well as competent supervision.

We are working to ensure that all of those involved in the lives of care experienced children and young people have the expertise to help them live successful lives.

We know the incredible difference relationships can make to a young person’s life, so it’s important that those who support them have the time and knowledge to support strong, meaningful relationships. With new funding from Esmée Fairbairn, Staf is embarking on a new project to support the benchmarking and prioritisation of relationship-based practice.

The right to benefit from social security, to an adequate standard of living and access to education

Article 26: States Parties shall recognize for every child the right to benefit from social security, including social insurance, and shall take the necessary measures to achieve the full realization of this right in accordance with their national law.

Article 27: States Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.

Article 28: States Parties recognize the right of the child to education.

Staf is committed to promoting policy and practice that ensures better outcomes for young people leaving care. To do this, we create opportunities for our members to share good practice. We do this through blogs on our website on issues such as Universal Credit or the care experienced bursary. We also facilitate focus groups, such as the Care Leavers into Employment Focus Group.

The duty to promote physical and psychological recovery of children

Article 39: States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse; torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; or armed conflicts. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.

We are all increasingly aware of the impact that early childhood trauma and adversity can have on young people’s lives. Staf is working to promote practices that promote and support recovery from trauma.

As part of that, we’re creating opportunities for our members to learn from experts in this field. This month our National Conference will be focused on the issue, hearing from Tony Bloemendaal and Dr Karen Treisman. And we’re involved in a 2020 conference that will be led by world-renowned expert Dr Bruce Perry.

The duty to promote the reintegration of children involved in the justice system

Article 40: States Parties recognize the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child’s respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and which takes into account the child’s age and the desirability of promoting the child’s reintegration and the child’s assuming a constructive role in society.

Staf is working to improve the life chances of care-experienced young people with direct experience of the justice system. In partnership with the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice, we are also working to increase the participation of young people with lived experience of the justice system. We will also shortly begin a new project, Project Return, that will see a steering group of care-experienced young people who have been involved in the justice system co-produce a toolkit of resources to aid understanding of trauma.

📸 Photo by Jenn Evelyn-Ann on Unsplash