A Children’s Rights Approach (CRA) to Public Services in Wales

Children in Wales receive a range of services from public bodies such as the Welsh Government, local councils, schools, and health boards. These services are often referred to as ‘public services’. As the Welsh Government has made a commitment to adopt the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child  (UNCRC) as a guide to how public services are run in Wales, it is important that all public bodies take account of children’s rights when planning and running public services.

The Observatory on Human Rights of Children has developed a Children’s Rights Approach (or CRA) to be used by public bodies in Wales. This was prepared for the Children’s Commissioner for Wales in 2016 by Dr Rhian Croke and Professor Simon Hoffman based on research on the topic.

The CRA is based on 5 principles:

  • Embedding Children’s Rights.
  • Equality and Non-Discrimination.
  • Participation of Children.
  • Empowering Children.
  • Accountability to Children.

If you want to know more about these principles, and why they are important, you can read the Children’s Commissioner for Wales document called The Right Way’.

The CRA is important because it is being supported by the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, but also by the Welsh Government and the Future Generations Commissioner as a way of working which helps public bodies implement (or give effect to) children’s rights in Wales. In 2020 the CRA was also adopted by the Children’s Commissioner for Jersey as a way of working for the Jersey Government,

If you want to learn more about a CRA, and how this might apply to health services, you can read a very detailed explanation in a PhD (an academic study) written by Dr Rhian Croke here: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa58170

In 2021, Rhian and Simon carried out research for the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) on the impact of Covid-19 emergency legislation on children’s rights. When a CRA was applied to the evidence gathered by for this research it became obvious that children’s rights had not been properly taken into account by many European governments during Covid-19. The research argues that governments need to do much more to respect children’s rights when they make laws or policy to deal with public emergencies, such as Covid-19. You can read about this research here.