Embedding children’s rights means deliberately and systematically using children’s rights in the language an organisation uses, ensuring that staff understand children’s rights through training and development, and integrating rights thinking into service development.
Embedding rights in these ways mean that staff understand that they are duty-bearers; in other words they have a professional duty to uphold and promote children’s rights. It also means that children and their families hear the clear message that they receive services they need because they have a right to the support they need to achieve their potential. This avoids a deficit approach and sends an important signal to children of their inherent worth no matter what life’s thrown at them.
You can embed rights in your service by:
- Ensuring all policies and internal documents are underpinned by and explicitly mention the UNCRC. Reference to rights should be explicit and incorporate standards such as the National Participation Standards for Young People.
- Ensuring that staff, senior leadership and council are aware of children’s rights and how they can be upheld in everyday practice, individual roles and the delivery of the service.
Some practical ways to embed children’s rights into everyday practice:
- Use rights language in your everyday practice with children and their families. For example, ‘You have a right to be listened to and taken seriously. That’s why I want to meet up and hear more about…..’
- Use rights language to advocate on behalf of the children and young people you are working with. For example, ‘She has a right to the support she needs to recover from the abuse she experienced (article 39, UNCRC) therefore there is a strong case for providing this psychological support.’
- Encourage consideration of children’s rights in team discussions and supervision sessions.
Learn more about how Wrexham CBC have embedded rights in to their service:
Neath Port Talbot Council – Case Study
Embedding children’s rights in social care:
Neath Port Talbot Council are passionate about upholding the rights of children and young people, and their Children’s Services directorate, with the support of Neath Port Talbot Children’s Rights Unit, have recently developed the role of ‘Children’s Rights Champions’. Champions are invited to attend a practical training workshop where they learn about the UNCRC and the five principles of a Children’s Rights Approach. This knowledge is then applied to the creation of an action plan which gives champions the opportunity to take ownership of how they can embed children’s rights into their current everyday practice, and considers ideas for service development. Children’s rights are everyone’s responsibility, through the recruitment of volunteer champions and development of an action plan, the local authority is committed to embedding children’s rights in practice.
Heronsbridge School – Case Study
Heronsbridge is both a Primary and Secondary Special School. They cater for a wide range of Learning Needs including a department for pupils on the Autistic Continuum, they have two residential houses in the school grounds, although the majority of the pupils are day pupils. Heronsbridge has taken a whole school approach to embedding rights across the school. All staff have undertaken training and the schools governing body is aware of the UNCRC and how they can support the whole school community to embed a rights based approach.
The UNCRC is embedded into school policies and used in every day practice in assemblies, lessons and activities with pupils – ensuring they are aware of and can access their rights. The school recognises the impact embedding rights has had. By promoting the values of respect, dignity and non-discrimination, children’s self-esteem and wellbeing is boosted as they know they have a voice and listened to, or adults will work in their best interests. Children feel safe in such an environment, The Rights Respecting Schools Award gives children a powerful language to use to express themselves and to have opinions on matters that affect them. Staff act as Duty Bearers ensuring children’s rights are at the forefront of all decisions made. Children have better relationships both with their teachers and their peers, based on mutual respect and the value of everyone’s opinion. In a Rights Respecting school children are treated as equals by their fellow pupils and by the adults in the school. Children become active and involved in school life and the wider world this builds their confidence to make informed decisions. They have a moral framework, based on equality and respect for all that lasts a lifetime, as they grow into engaged, responsible members of society.