UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
Dept of Health and Children, November 2000:
"National Children's Strategy:
(Ed note: Emphasis added)
"National Children's Strategy:
Our Children - Their Lives"
(Department of Health and Children, November 2000)
(Comments to be inserted)
p.24: "2.2 Developing a 'Whole Child' perspective
"Taking these trends as its context the Strategy has adopted a 'whole child' perspective, which provides a more complete understanding of children's lives. It draws on the most recent research and knowledge about children's development and the relationship between children and family, community and the wider society. This understanding will guide the management of change in children's lives over the period of the strategy. This perspective anchors the Strategy to a coherent and inclusive view of childhood and can be recognised as implicit in how most parents think about their children. The perspective is endorsed as good practice underpinning legislation and policy and serviced developments internationally. It is also compatible with the spirit of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child."
p.32: "Giving Children a Voice Will:
- "Recognise that children must have a say in matters which affect them, in line with the UN Convention.
- Promote learning. Involvement promotes practical civic education.
- Improve decision-making. Involving diverse groups within the policy-making process can provide governments with new perspectives, opportunities for new solutions and greater citizen acceptance at the policy implementation stage.
- Help strengthen civil society. Increasing the capacity of citizens and government to interact and develop policy in collaboration can serve to strengthen democracy and provide means for civil society organisations to become more involved.
p.35: "Medical Consent
"One of the ways in which the Strategy will work is by encouraging debate as a prelude to developing new proposals on emerging issues.
One such issue is that of medical consent in relation to children. A discussion paper will be produced in which the issues will be explored. These will include guidance in relation to:
- the capacity of children to consent to medical treatments;
- access to services without parental consent;
- consent to medical treatment for children in care;
- the need for effective communication between professionals and children and their families."
p.35: "Children's Constitutional Rights
"Children's rights in the Irish Constitution are found under Article 40 (personal rights), Article 41 (family), Article 42 (education), Article 43 (private property) and Article 44 (religion). A number of the rights set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child are already provided for in the Constitution, either expressly or impliedly. Others are provided for in legislation.
"Article 3.1 of the UN Convention provides 'In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.' This is a variant of what is known as the welfare principle. Although this principle appears in a number of Irish statutes relating to children, it is absent, at least in express form, from the Constitution.
"The Constitution Review Group, in its report published in 1996, recommended that the Constitution be amended (a) to include the welfare principle and (b) to provide an express guarantee of certain other children's rights deriving from the UN Convention. These recommendations relating to children are linked to other recommendations made by the Constitution Review Group in respect of the family. This is a complex issue, given the status afforded to the marital family in the Constitution.
"The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has recommended the acceleration of the implementation of the Constitution Review Group recommendations relating to the UN Convention.
The All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution is currently considering the Report of the Constitution Review Group and this Committee has been requested on behalf of the Government to prioritise its consideration of the issue of the constitutional underpinning of individual children's rights."
p.46: The Objectives: Group 1:
All children have a basic range of needs"
"The following objectives seek to promote quality of life experiences for individual children and to foster social and community values in children:
"Children's early education and developmental needs will be met through quality childcare services and family-friendly employment measures."
p.50: "Recent initiatives
- "The identification of childcare as a priority in the National Development Plan under which £250m was providedů"
- "The allocation of an additional £40m for inflation.
p.84: "The Engine for Change
- "The allocation of £74m in the National Development Plan to implement the White Paper on Early Childhood Education."
p.84 "Involvement of the Key Sectors - National Children's Advisory Council
"Development of the Strategy has involved the key sectors concerned with children's issues. These are the voluntary sector, the research community. The agenda for action set out in the Strategy is heavily influenced by what these sectors, and children themselves, had to say.
Moving the Strategy forward and ensuring its delivery will be dependent on the continued commitment and involvement of those sectors as they have significant capacity to influence and effect change. They must therefore be involved in shaping the implementation of the Strategy. The aim of co-ordinating all efforts directed at children, which is the primary purpose of the Strategy, requires the direct involvement of these sectors if this is to be achieved. Their wide breadth of experience and expertise will contribute significantly to debating Strategy issues and advising on solutions. It will energise debate around children's issues and provide forward momentum.
"This will be achieved through the establishment of a National Children's Advisory Council. The membership of the Council will reflect the partnership of interests required and will include children's representatives, and representatives of the Social Partners and the research community. The National Children's Office (see below), which will have central-level responsibility for ensuring action in all areas of children's policy development, will also be represented on the Council. In this way, a strong linkage will be created within the Council between the government and non-government sectors. This approach will strengthen and deepen the role of the non-governmental sector in the policy development and implementation processes.
"The Council will have an independent advisory and monitoring role in relation to the implementation of the Strategy and it will report to the Minister for Children in that regard. Secretarial support will be provided."
p.85: "Internal Public Service Capacity - National Children's Office
"A National Children's Office is to be established to provide a major boost to managing cross-departmental issues. The Children's Office will be an independent body established under the Public Service Management Act, 1997. It will have the expertise and the significant budgetary resources necessary to enable it to provide administrative support to the Minister for Children and to act as a strong support mechanism for departments in relation to the implementation of the Strategy.
"The Children's Office will be the catalyst within the Government's administrative system for ensuring inter- departmental co-operation and the integration of activities on children's issues. In this regard, it will have a strong focus on solving problems and finding solutions where better co-ordination between departments and between agencies is required. To support this work, the Office will bring together time-limited cross-departmental project teams with local, statutory and voluntary agency representatives, supported by commissioned experts, to address particular issues and to identify better-tailored solutions. It will seek to develop existing relationships and to build new ones, by encouraging and facilitating links between organisations and between individuals.
"The Office will be headed up by a Board comprising Assistant Secretaries from the main departments involved in the implementation of the Strategy. There will also be links created to local-level public bodies. These Assistant Secretaries and local-level representatives will have responsibility for ensuring the implementation of the Strategy in their own departments and organisations. The Children's Office will work to effect change through the Board, building on existing integration mechanisms.
"The National Children's Office will be engaged in [inter alia]:
"The Office will be an influential body headed by a Director and staffed at a level necessary to effect significant influence across the various departments and agencies. It will also routinely contract in expertise as required."
- "preparing an annual work programme to translate the three National Goals and objectives into detailed plans for action and the preparation of progress reports for presentation by the Minister for Children to the Cabinet Sub-Committee on a six-monthly basis;"
- "ensuring that co-ordinated and integrated action takes place..
- "monitoring implementation of the Strategy..".
"The Director will be a key figure at national level in the development of a more cohesive approach to children's policy."
The report "The National Children's Strategy: Our Children - Their Lives", from which the above is abstracted,is available from Government Publications Sales Office, Molesworth St, Dublin 2, Phone: 647 6000, price £5 including postage.
The White Paper "Supporting Voluntary Activity" is available from the same address, price £5 including postage.
Comments will be inserted later.
**********************************15 January 2001