This blog was written by the Minster for Childcare and Early Years, Mark McDonald MSP. Mr McDonald participated in the fourth and final seminar in the SUII seminar series, the UNCRC Going Forwards, which looked at next steps for implementation. The UNCRC in Scotland seminar series was held in partnership with Together, the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR) and the Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection (CCWP). The seminar series — funded by SUII — sought to improve and address gaps in the implementation and monitoring of the UNCRC in Scotland.
At the final seminar held on June 1st, Mark McDonald MSP set out his view of what actions can be taken forward by the Scottish Government to further the rights of children and young people in Scotland and how the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s 2016 Concluding Observations will be taken forward. Mr McDonald also took part in a panel discussion alongside the new Commissioner for Children and Young People Bruce Adamson, Together‘s Director Juliet Harris, and members of the Glasgow Youth Council.
In June, I was delighted to participate in the final SUII seminar which explored how children’s rights might be further progressed in Scotland, including with reference to the Concluding Observations which were published by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on 12 July 2016.
The UNCRC is at the heart of the Scottish Government’s ambition to make Scotland the best place to grow up. We take our responsibilities under the Convention to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of all of our children and young people very seriously indeed.
As the Minister for Childcare and Early Years, I am proud to have the lead responsibility to promote awareness and understanding of children’s rights. However, I am clear that leadership on rights extends across all areas of Government – and beyond.
June marked the second anniversary of the coming into force of new duties on all Scottish Ministers under Part 1 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. These provisions, which take us further than any previous Scottish Government, provide a clear statutory framework for advancing children’s rights in Scotland.
Under the Act, Ministers must consider steps which might better take forward the UNCRC in Scotland, taking children and young people’s views into account as appropriate. They must also promote awareness and understanding of children’s rights.
We have introduced a Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA) to ensure the systematic consideration of how policies will impact on the rights and wellbeing of children and young people. There is a clear Ministerial expectation that CRWIAs will be completed for all new policies and legislation.
Under Part 1, Ministers must also report to Parliament every 3 years on progress in relation to children’s rights and detail plans for the next 3 years. Fittingly, the first report will be sent to Parliament in 2018, the Year of Young People. This Report will include specific actions in response to the UN Committee’s Concluding Observations, as appropriate, and further planned activity for the remainder of this parliament.
Ahead of the 2018 Report, positive progress is already being made across a number of policy areas relevant to the UN Committee’s Concluding Observation. For example:
- We are implementing radical reforms to strengthen our education system, raise attainment for all and reduce the impact of deprivation on educational outcomes.
- Our Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill, currently before Parliament, will establish Scotland as the only part of the UK with ambitious statutory income targets on child poverty, and will set out a robust framework for measuring, monitoring and reporting on child poverty at a national and local level.
- We have established an Independent Care Review which will take a ‘root and branch’ approach to reviewing the system for children and young people in care, placing the voices and experiences of children at the heart of the process.
- We have announced our intention to bring forward legislation this term to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12 years of age, with appropriate safeguards.
- We are also developing a Framework to Support Disabled Children, Young People and their Families to get the right support at the right time, in the right way, from birth to adulthood.
In taking forward these, and other relevant actions, we are committed to meaningful engagement with children and young people, ensuring that they are at the heart of decisions which affect them.
We are currently working with key stakeholders to develop a more coordinated and sustainable approach to engagement with children and young people. Participation was a key theme of the meeting held between the Children’s Parliament, Scottish Youth Parliament and Cabinet in February, where it was agreed that this meeting would become an annual event.
Our key stakeholders who work with children and young people are also currently planning events and activities to celebrate the achievements of Scotland’s youth as part of the Year of Young People. Alongside this planning, I have committed personally to engage with children and young people in their own communities during this special year.
I believe strongly that through effective leadership, partnership working with key stakeholders and meaningful and open engagement, we will continue to make sustainable improvements in how we make rights real for all of Scotland’s children and young people.
Find out more about the ‘UNCRC in Scotland’ seminar series and access resources from all four seminars here.