The Children’s Social Care Review has agreed to sector-wide calls to conduct a Children’s Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA) ahead of issuing its recommendations to government.

CRIAs are an essential mechanism to help ensure that government policy, legislation and budgeting are consistent with international children’s rights standards. Within government, they are a tool used by civil servants to consider the potential impact of public policy on children’s rights, as a means of fulfilling obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and other treaties and domestic legislation, and avoiding measures which breach those requirements.

Earlier this year a coalition of coalitions, working with and for children and young people in England, called on the care review to publicly commit to upholding the principles and provisions of the UNCRC. This led to the care review announcing that it was “unequivocal” in its support for the UNCRC. Now it has taken the very welcome step of including children’s rights in its framework for formulating proposals to government.

The coalition of coalitions includes representative bodies with over 150 member organisations and tens of thousands of individual social workers and lawyers across the sector. Co-chaired by Ben Twomey (NYAS) and Carolyne Willow (Article 39), its focus has been to seek to persuade the care review to adopt a children’s rights framework both in how it conducts its work and the recommendations it makes to government.

Ben Twomey, Co-Chair of the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers, said:

“The children’s sector has been united in the call for children’s rights to be at the heart of the care review. We welcome this commitment from the review team to measure the impact of their recommendations. This ‘once-in-a-generation’ review must seize the opportunity to strengthen and expand rights, entitlements and protections for all care-experienced children and young people.”

Carolyne Willow, founder of the Together for Children network, said:

“The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the lodestar for ensuring that every child has a happy, fulfilling and safe childhood where they can meet their potential. It respects children for the people they are today, and places obligations on governments to ensure laws, financial decision-making and policies work for children and their families.

“As we reach the thirtieth anniversary of the UK ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it’s absolutely right that the review uses the treaty as a framework for assessing the extent to which potential recommendations could help to fulfil the government’s obligations towards children and their families, or take us backwards. It’s vital the review starts this assessment process as soon as possible, so it has a fighting chance of producing proposals which embody the principles and provisions of the Convention. The best children’s rights impact assessments are not tick-box exercises at the end of a policy development process but a guiding framework for doing right by children and their families from the start.”

Full minutes of the 4th November 2021 meeting between representatives of the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers and the care review team, in which the CRIA was committed to, are available here.