2019 marks thirty years since the passing of The Children’s Act of 1989 through parliament. Despite the act providing tremendous change to the country’s attitude towards child protection, decades later we still see many gaps in government policy regarding the safeguarding of our children. 1989 also marked the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which the UK ratified in 1991, however is still yet to incorporate into law.
Last week, the Association of Child Protection Professionals co-signed an open letter, published in The Times newspaper, to the UK’s political parties to urge them to take seriously the UNCRC by firstly incorporating it into UK law but also looking deeper into how to actualise the policies that it proposes. To help parties recognise the urgent steps needing to be taken to revolutionise child safeguarding, Together for Children created the 30 General Election pledges. These 30 pledges ‘combine comprehensive measures to support families with vital improvements to children and young people’s care and protection’. Pledges that include:
- Incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into law (Pledge 1)
- End discriminatory social security for asylum seeking families, ensuring equitable levels and the removal of the stigmatising and restrictive state (ASPEN) debit card. All children to have full and equal access to social protection (including health, education, social care) regardless of their immigration status… (Pledge 4)
- Adequately fund local authorities to meet their statutory obligations in the Children Act 1989… strengthen the capacity of local authorities to provide financial and other support to families to prevent children entering care, to prevent offending by children and to prevent children being deprived of their liberty. (Pledge 12)
- Review the support offered to children with special educational needs and disabilities, with a view to substantially increasing resources… (Pledge 18)
- Ensure every child has access to an independent advocate so their wishes and feelings are understood and taken seriously. (Pledge 20)
- Ensure individuals who were formerly in care have priority for assessment for support services including housing, mental health and drug and alcohol services, and finance local authorities to provide ongoing support for care leavers for as long as they need it. (Pledge 27)
- Put respect, equality and fairness at the heart of our public services, bringing an end to programmes and policies which demean and stigmatise communities… (Pledge 28)
Alongside the 69 other signatories we truly believe that a commitment to the pledges, as included in the open letter, will make a real difference to the landscape of child protection.
If you want to read the full letter and list of signatories click here. And if you want to get the letter in front of more people share it among your friends or colleagues or send it to your local MP so that we can build a better system for our vulnerable children.