Creating a fairer Britain
Title of guidance:
Year published: 2006
Length: 48 pages
Format: PDF (1.8Mb)
Other formats: none indicated
Producer/ Publisher: Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People (SCCYP)
Type of organisation: Inspectorate
Children's services | All (cross-sector) | External Service Guidance | European Convention on Human Rights | UN Convention on the Rights of the Child | GB wide | Case studies
Audience: Service management | Policy managers and directors
Topics: Human rights | involvement and participation | best interests | impact assessment
This toolkit was designed by the office of Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young people to guide its own work; however, it may also be used and adapted by policy and decision makers to help them fulfil their responsibilities to respect the rights of children and young people set out in national and international law - especially the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The toolkit makes specific reference to the legal and policy environment in Scotland, but is of generic value. It explains the purpose of children's rights impact assessments and guidelines on how they should be carried out. It includes forms which are essentially a step-by-step guide to conducting an assessment. It is informed by an international comparison of similar models and can be used to assess the impact of any policy, law or decision on children and young people and their rights, even when the issue is not unique to children.
This toolkit takes as its framework the rights enshrined in the CRC and the four core principles that underpin it:
The toolkit explains that a children's rights impact assessment is a tool for looking at a policy, law or decision and assessing its impact on children and young people and their rights. This includes the differential impact of measures on particular groups of children.
It allows the impact to be predicted, monitored and, if necessary, avoided or mitigated.
The full benefits of impact assessments can be realised when done by those making the decision or formulating the policy - and not only by those exercising external scrutiny. Children's rights can then be considered at the earliest possible stage, ensuring they are embedded in policy development and decision making.
Key features of SCCYP's assessment model include:
The toolkit is informed by a mapping exercise of those models, as well as of non-child specific impact assessments, including environmental, regulatory and equalities assessments. It is therefore valuable as a distillation of what has been proven to work in other sectors and jurisdictions.
The toolkit takes the CRC as its starting point, but emphasises that all relevant law, standards and guidelines - domestic, regional and international - should be taken into account; for example, the European Convention on Human Rights, European Union law and policy, and International Labour Organisation conventions.
It emphasises that impact assessments are not an end in themselves - to be effective, their findings should be taken account of and acted upon in decision and policy making processes.
The guide explains that children and young people have traditionally been 'largely invisible' and powerless in decision and policy making processes.
Children are particularly dependent upon public services, and therefore especially susceptible to government failures. Avenues for legal redress, complaints mechanisms and other procedures for airing grievances often explicitly exclude children, or are inaccessible or inappropriate to them.
The committee of independent experts that monitors implementation of the CRC internationally has expressly endorsed the use of children's rights impact assessments and this view has been echoed by the UK parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights.
Based on international evidence, the toolkit identifies what areas might need to be assessed for their impact on children and their rights:
The toolkit contains guidance about determining which kind of decisions or policies might require assessment, given that it cannot happen in every case. For example, children's rights impact assessments could be especially valuable where a policy or decision has an indirect impact on children, which is less likely to have been considered than a more obvious, direct impact.
Two types of assessment are catered for in the toolkit:
The initial assessment will help identify whether a full assessment is required.
The eight stages of the full assessment are:
Each stage of the process is explained with a summary of the key questions that should be asked during the assessment. In some cases, examples are presented to illustrate the assessment process. The toolkit also contains examples of
The toolkit explains the types of judgment that might be required as part of the assessment process. For example, it may be discovered that there are competing interests, either between children and another group (such as parents), or between different groups of children, possibly in relation to resources.
Where this is the case, it will be important to carry out a full impact assessment and to examine whether the best interests of some children are being promoted over those of others and, if so, whether this is being done proportionately and for legitimate reasons.
A local authority proposes to house together some of the unaccompanied asylum seeking young people in its area in a particular residential care home, staffed by professionals with relevant skills and experience, and where the local school is practiced at educating pupils whose first language is not English. The authority has based its proposal on the best interests of the asylum seeking children. However, the young people currently living in the residential care home will have to be moved to other placements.
SCCYP encourages the dissemination and use of the toolkit and the use and adaptation of the generic screening and full impact assessment forms, provided SCCYP is acknowledged as the source.
The toolkit includes the possibility of a financial analysis of decisions, setting out its costs and benefits. While the toolkit does not expressly address the issue of making cuts to public services, it is clearly relevant to decisions about reconfiguring services in the context of public austerity, and assessing the impact this might have on children.
Focus on Scotland - but explained that it's of generic value and adaptable.
We hope that you found the resource helpful and easy to use. Please let us know about other guidance or references that you think we should include. Send us your feedback.