Report on the rights of children in care launched by Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission have released a research report which examines the rights of children in care in Northern Ireland. The research was conducted by Centre for Children's Rights members Dr. Karen Winter and Dr. Bronagh Byrne (School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work) and Dr. Katrina Lloyd (School of Education). The report highlights that there are currently more ‘looked after children’ in Northern Ireland than at any time since the Children Order came into effect and that the numbers of child protection and children in need referrals are on an upward curve.

Chief Commissioner Les Allamby stated:  “In 2015 we are even more aware how very vulnerable children in care are, children who for whatever reason cannot live with their families, must be offered the highest level of human rights protection. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child requires the best interests of the child to be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies.

At the time compiling this report there were over 2,800 looked after children in Northern Ireland, almost one fifth of these children had been in the system for 5-10 years. Our research identifies on-going difficulties with the current system and indicates that reforms are required in a number of areas. Our aim is for improvements be made without delay as it is essential that our laws and practices protect children’s human rights at every step of their journey through the care system.”

The report identifies a number of areas for improvement, including: the practice of moving children; delay in adoption process; the right of the child to be heard and taken seriously; concerns over criminalisation of young people in residential care.

The report can be accessed here

A BBC news item about the research can be found here 

For more information contact

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Centre for Children’s Rights supports NGO reports to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child

The Centre for Children's Rights has been delighted to support the Children's Law Centre and Save the Children (NI),in their preparation of a NI Young People's Report and a NI Non-Governmental Organisations  Alternative Report to inform the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's examination of the United Kingdom's compliance with its obligations under the UNCRC (scheduled to take place in 2016).  The NI NGO Alternative Report represents the views of a wide range of children and young people, NGOs and adults, and was prepared through a series of consultation workshops. Youth@clc, the Children's Law Centre's youth advisory group, developed the NI Young People's Report, which involved an online survey of the views of a wide range of children in relation to their rights and a series of research workshops carried out with a wide range of children and young people. 

For more information on the reports see here

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Centre for Children’s Rights members attend children’s rights events in Dubli

On Wednesday 17th June, Professor Laura Lundy and Dr Karen Orr from the Centre for Children’s Rights attended the launch of the Irish National Strategy on Children and Young People's Participation in Dublin.  The strategy, the first of its kind in Europe, aims to ensure that children and young people have a voice in decisions made about their lives.  Laura Lundy presented on her model of participation (Lundy, 2007), which is underpins the strategy.  The event was attended by a range of academics, practitioners, and policy makers.  Laura and Karen also attended the ‘Making Rights a Reality: How the post-2015 Framework will help shape Children’s Rights’ conference, held in Dublin on the 18th June.  Laura was a panellist during this event discussing opportunities for better investment in children’s rights and better child participation. 

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Doctoral Students Engaging with Schools and Children on Children’s Rights

Children’s Rights at Queen’s (CRAQ) is a new initiative in the Centre for Children’s Rights which is led by doctoral students at the Schools of Education, English and Law and funded by the Centre and the Graduate School. Queen’s University students involved in CRAQ are trained to deliver sessions on children’s rights in schools across Northern Ireland.

CRAQ’s core aim is to empower children by developing their understanding of their rights.  It also aims to contribute to the development of a culture of children’s rights in Northern Ireland by training Queen’s University students, the future professionals of Northern Ireland, to deliver these sessions. As well as giving students the opportunity to develop transferable skills which will improve their employability, CRAQ equips them with the knowledge and understanding of children’s rights to make decisions in the best interests of young people in their future careers.

The CRAQ committee developed the activities for the sessions in collaboration with a group of children and young people from a primary and a secondary school to ensure that the materials were child-friendly. They also worked with Centre members who gave them advice on children’s rights and pedagogical methods.

To date CRAQ has visited four schools in Northern Ireland, with more planned for this year. The programme has also attracted the attention of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, who invited committee members to a meeting to hear more about their work.

For more information contact Rhian Barrance

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Visiting Research Fellow joins Centre for Children's Rights

The Centre is delighted to be hosting Alison Kearney as a visiting scholar for the next month. Alison is an Associate Professor at Massey University in New Zealand and was the head of the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy from 2009 to 2013. She began her career as a primary school teacher and also spent time working in special education. Her teaching and research interests include inclusion and exclusion, children’s rights and inter professional practice. Alison has served on numerous Ministry of Education advisory groups and been involved in national policy evaluations.

Alison will be giving a semianr based on some of her work on Friday 22nd May - details here

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New report by the Centre for Children's Rights on Children's Rights Education in 26 Countries

UNICEF has recently published the findings from a research project undertaken by the Centre for Children’s Rights examining the implementation of Children’s Rights Education (CRE) across 26 countries. On 30th April 2015 Lee Jerome presented the findings in Geneva to members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, representatives from twelve country missions to the Committee and a cross-section of UN and NGO staff. The research found that only 11 of 26 countries had some form of CRE in their curriculum for all children, and that only 3 monitored this provision routinely. Despite the gaps in provision overall we conducted several case studies of good practice which informed the construction of CRE Benchmarking Statements to guide states and other stakeholders in reviewing and developing their CRE provision. The report can be found here 

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Centre members present at American Educational Research Association Conference

On 18th April Lesley Emerson and Katrina Lloyd presented a paper at the American Educational Research Association Conference in Chicago. Lesley outlined the approach taken to working with a group of 10 and 11 year old children as co-researchers to develop a measure of the extent to which children feel their participation rights are respected in school and in their community. The questions developed with the children were piloted in the Kid’s Life and Times survey, the results of which the children then analysed and interpreted. Katrina outlined the psychometric properties of the measure. The discussant for the session in which the paper was presented commended the unique approach taken to working with children as co-researchers in survey development.

More information on the project, funded by the Improving Children’s Lives initiative, can be found here. For more information about the Centre’s work with children as co-researchers contact Lesley Emerson

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Towards better investment in the rights of the child: The views of children

As previously reported, the Centre for Children's Rights has been supporting a group of international NGOs to conduct a global consultation with children and young people on the topic of public expenditure for children's rights.  This consultation has captured the views of almost 2,700 children from over 70 different countries across the globe.  The final report, authored by Professor Laura Lundy, Dr Karen Orr, and Dr Chelsea Marshall has now been completed and has been sent to the UN to support the Human Rights Council’s Annual Day of Discussion on the Rights of the child in 2015. The report will also support the development of the Committee on the Rights of the Child’s upcoming General Comment on Public Expenditure.

You can visit the Child Rights Connect website here

You can click here for the report

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Dr Bronagh Byrne invited speaker at ROCK event on UNCRC incorporation

Dr Bronagh Byrne participated in an event organised by the Rights of the Child UK Coalition (ROCK) which was held in London on 3rd February. The aim of the event was to review the progress, set out challenges and learn lessons from across the UK in incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into law. Discussion took place on: incorporation progress across the UK, with perspectives from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England; the challenges to incorporation; and models and arguments around incorporating economic, social and cultural rights. Dr Bronagh Byrne and Alex Tennant from the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People jointly presented on recent projects which identified barriers to effective government delivery for children and young people in NI as well as a recently completed ESRC project which sets out options for the legal implementation of the UNCRC in NI. Later in the day, Dr Byrne presented findings from research carried out on behalf of UNICEF with Professor Laura Lundy and Professor Urusla Kilkelly on what we can learn from other countries internationally about legal implementation of the UNCRC. Other speakers included Professor Van Bueren QC, University of London; Baroness Joan Walmsley, House of Lords; Professor Aoife Nolan, Nottingham University; Dr Simon Hoffman, Wales Observatory on the Human Rights of Children and Young People; Paula Uccellari   Child Rights Alliance for England; Jamie Burton, Doughty Street Chambers; Juliet Harris, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights) and Sanchita Hosali   British Institute for Human Rights.

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Children’s Rights at Queen’s (CRAQ) meet with Deputy Director of ‘Street Law’

Judy Zimmer, Deputy Director of Street Law, a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C., visited the Centre for Children’s Rights at the beginning of December. Judy has extensive experience of developing classroom and community programs to teach people about law, democracy, and human rights worldwide. While visiting the Centre, Judy met with doctoral students from CRAQ (Children’s Rights at Queen’s). CRAQ is a student -led initiative in the Centre which is developing a programme to train Queen’s University students to deliver school-based sessions in primary and secondary schools to raise children’s awareness and understanding of children's rights. Judy offered invaluable support and advice to CRAQ, and her visit was thoroughly enjoyed by all members.  

For more information on CRAQ e-mail  Rhian Barrance

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