Today (21st May) a coalition of coalitions, working with and for children and young people in England, called on the Children’s Social Care Review to publicly commit to upholding the principles and provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

The coalition includes representative bodies with over 150 member organisations and tens of thousands of individual social workers and lawyers across the sector.

Since the Care Review was announced almost six months ago, none of its publications have mentioned ‘rights’ when discussing children and young people.

While separately calling on the UK Government to accelerate the process of fully incorporating the UNCRC into domestic law, the coalition has specifically requested that:

  • The review promotes and strengthens children’s rights; a Child Rights Impact Assessment of its own proposals and recommendations would provide an assurance mechanism for this.
  • Children’s rights standards (as expressed in domestic and international law) form the framework of the review.
  • The review refrains from making any recommendations which dilute or delete existing legal protections which children, young people (including care leavers) and families rely upon.
  • Children’s meaningful and effective participation is at heart of the review, informed by the Committee on the Rights of the Child’s comprehensive guidance on implementing Article 12 of the Convention, the child’s right to be heard and taken seriously. This applies to both the review’s working methods and to the recommendations it makes for strengthening children’s rights: all children have the right to express their views freely, to have these given due weight and to be heard and represented in all administrative and judicial proceedings when decisions are being made about them.
  • Children and families benefit from increased legal entitlements and social protection, because of this review; and
  • The review champions government systems and structures which work for children and their families, and all those who care for, protect and support children and young people.

The coalition of coalitions, co-chaired by Ben Twomey (NYAS) and Carolyne Willow (Article 39), will continue to meet to coordinate sector-wide responses to the care review.

Carolyne Willow, Steering Group Member for Together for Children, said “The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the guiding light 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.

“A great many of us have huge concerns about the government’s children’s social care review, fearing it could lead to the further dismantling of local authority care, support and protection and the disappearance of crucial rights and entitlements. To date there’s been no official recognition in the review’s communications of the importance of the Convention. We have asked the chair to adopt this children’s rights framework as a guarantee that the needs and rights of children and their families will prevail. The UK ratified the Convention 30 years ago. It’s brought about tremendous changes for children but we are nowhere near fulfilling its obligations, which is why it’s vital that changes to our children’s social care system are guided by the treaty’s principles and provisions.”

Ben Twomey, Co-Chair of the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers, said “We are united in our call for children’s rights to be at the heart of the care review. We are asking the review team to work with the sector to uphold the principles and provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. A rights-based framework for the review will guarantee this and must be included in the care review’s upcoming case for change.”