Those working with children in a social care context have a duty to help ensure children know that they have rights, have real opportunities to take them up and feel empowered by their rights. This takes many different forms for children; from using rights language with children, to making sure they can see their rights reflected in their interactions with professionals and the support they receive, to having their rights protected when they are faced barriers to accessing them. This element of a children’s rights approach is about making rights a reality for children.
Children who receive support from social services may not always feel empowered if they believe decisions are made about them, as opposed to being made with them. This was clear from the conversations we had with children – they wanted to know why decisions were made and to be fully included in the decision making. Children told us that at times, they will not always receive the outcome they wanted, but they want to know how that decision was made.
Practical ways for services to put the principle of empowerment into practice
- Provide children with accessible information and education to develop their understanding of their human rights. There are many resources available to support this:
- Provide children with opportunities and the skills to engage with and influence services’ policies and processes. Offer training and information accessible to children and establish clear guidelines for how children will influence decisions.
- Provide children and young people with opportunities to act collectively to develop ideas and proposals, to take action and to influence decisions.
NPTC 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.
Learn more about how Safe Stars TGP have empowered children:
Tros Gynnal Plant (TGP) supports a range of work in Wales, Safe Stars is supporting young people who need support from Social services to access their rights. Here you can find an example of some of the things they have created to support young people’s rights.
Safe stars has worked with young people during the pandemic to support them to produce resources that help empower them and provide information for other children and young people, here are some examples.
Article 12 – Right to be listened to and taken seriously
The Safe Stars worked with young people towards making a film about Advocacy:
Article 19 – Right to be kept safe
They’ve also created a Safeguarding Rap video:
You can find out more about their work here: