Publication of the Report
118. Section 2(1) of the Act refers to publication of the Children's Rights Report "as soon as practicable" after the end of the 3 year period. Authorities will need to consider other duties and responsibilities that will fall upon them at or around that time. Long term planning will assist in this process, especially if authorities are seeking to maximise effort by combining and/or aligning reporting mechanisms and processes.
119. Public authorities should also create opportunities for children and young people, families, communities, practitioners and civic society to be engaged in scrutinising the findings of Children's Rights Reports once they are published. This process of scrutiny should also provide mechanisms for evaluative feedback which can inform the next process of developing Children's Rights Reports.
Publication of joint reports by two or more authorities
120. Section 2(3) permits "two or more authorities to which this section applies" to publish a joint report. This provision was included in the legislation to facilitate maximisation of resources and avoid duplication of effort, and could include a range of arrangements.
121. Public authorities publishing joint reports should also ensure that accessible child- and young person-friendly formats of the reports are available to all children and young people.
Structure and format of reports
122. Section 2(1) requires the report to be published "in such manner as the authority considers appropriate". Whilst the Act does not prescribe the format, structure or length of Children's Rights Reports, the framework described above provides authorities with an outline structure, using the UNCRC clusters and suggestions for key considerations. The reports should explicitly draw on the views and experiences of children and young people as well as other evidence from a range of sources that explores progress or areas where improvement is required in realising children's rights. Appendix 4 has further detail on involving children and young people in Children's Rights Reports.
123. It is important that the steps public authorities have taken to "secure better or further effect" of children's rights under their duties in relation to the UNCRC requirements are clearly delineated within the report. The phrase "secure better or further effect" is not defined in the Act so these words take their ordinary meaning. In considering what steps have been taken, public authorities may find it helpful to refer to the questions and examples of reflective statements contained within the Framework for Children's Rights Reporting.
124. Where a child rights-based approach is taken to the development of Children's Services Plans, this may help to meet the needs of the Children's Rights Reports. However, duty bearers would also need to reflect on what steps have been taken to further children's rights that fall out with the remit of Children's Services Plans.
125. For example, local work connected with the scope of Part 1 (but not necessarily Part 3) might be evidenced by investment in improving street lighting, where the benefits are seen in terms of children's and families' safety as well as the wider population. Beyond "children's services" and "related services" that are the subject of Part 3 reporting, local planning relating to housing, and improving safety and access could be featured as part of meeting Part 1 duties, by both improving local places and amenities for everyone including children, and helping to address concerns about young people involved in anti-social behaviour and youth crime.
126. Longer term, Part 1 of the Act might support public authorities to launch new rights promoting initiatives in support of their wider UNCRC responsibilities that are more creative and ambitious. So their Part 1 reporting might also be able to include, for example:
- Involving children and young people in the development of a new hospital ward, designing a school, or creating a child-friendly public space where children and young people can congregate;
- Children and young people contributing to the content of new professional training and qualifications, or
- Children who have experience of crime informing new initiatives taken forward by the children's hearing system and police.
127. Of course participation by children and young people (Article 12) in the development of any policy, service or plan, and its monitoring, can also contribute to Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments ( CRWIA).
The structure and format of the Children's Rights Report could include:
- high level statements of ambition and intent relating to the UNCRC;
- baseline information about the population and situation of children and young people;
- analysis of changes over time and monitoring of progress relating to the public authorities' responsibilities in realising children's rights;
- areas where children's rights have not progressed and there are gaps and where improvements are required;
- examples of effective practice, and
- what is to be done by whom and when as a result of the report.
128. Consideration should be given to producing the reports in a variety of formats, taking account of a range of age-related and communication needs, including traditional formats and non-traditional formats such as social media. The production of the report should take into account the range of stakeholders that should have access to, and will have an interest in, the Children's Rights Report. The report should be accessible to children and young people and parents and carers.