Campaigners call for Care Review to explicitly commit to protecting children’s rights
A coalition of organisations representing children in care and professionals working in the sector has written to Care Review leaders asking for children’s rights to be at the heart of the process.
A coalition of organisations working with and for children and young people in England has 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 of coalitions’ includes representative bodies with over 150 member organisations and tens of thousands of individual social workers and lawyers across the sector – including BASW England and the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers.
The call comes as campaigners say in the six months since the Care Review was announced, none of its publications have mentioned ‘rights’ when discussing children and young people.
The coalition is requesting that the review promotes and strengthens children’s rights – and carries out a Child Rights Impact Assessment of its own proposals and recommendations.
They also ask that 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.
BASW England said in a statement that it is concerned that the Government will not support any recommendations that seek to secure extra funding for children and families made within the context of the review.
“Given that any such spending needs to be justified by future cost savings, this means that already cash-strapped services cannot expect to receive the public funds required to meet the needs and secure the rights of children and families,” a spokesperson said.
In 2011, there were 65,520 looked-after children – a number which rose to over 80,000 by the end of March 2020.
“A decade of austerity has had a devastating impact on children and families, with social workers already struggling to navigate increasingly complex safeguarding, needs and rights-based challenges with rising demand and inadequate resources,” the statement continued.
Ben Twomey, Co-Chair of the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers, said the review team must work with the sector to uphold the principles and provisions of the UNCRC.
“We are united in our call for children’s rights to be at the heart of the care review,” Twomey said, adding: “A rights-based framework for the review will guarantee this and must be included in the care review’s upcoming case for change.”
The coalition is also asking that children’s meaningful and effective participation is central to 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. They say this applies to both the review’s working methods and to the recommendations it makes for strengthening children’s rights.
Christian Kerr, Steering Group Member of the Care Review Watch Alliance, said he shares concerns expressed about the legitimacy and predicted outcomes of the Care Review.
“We wholeheartedly support the coalition of coalition's submission which positively and clearly reasserts the need for the review to resolutely focus on and preserve the rights of children as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. We see this as fundamental to a caring review.”
The coalition is also separately calling on the UK Government to accelerate the process of full incorporation of the UNCRC into UK law, consistent with recommendations made by the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The ‘coalition of coalitions’ is made up of:
The Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers
Together for Children
Alliance for Youth Justice (AYJ)
Association of Lawyers for Children (ALC)
BASW England National Standing Committee
Care Review Watch Alliance
Every Child Leaving Care Matters (ECLCM)
Refugee and Migrant Children’s Consortium (RMCC)
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