Children’s Parliament Investigates…Child Right’s Impact Assessments in East Lothian

The office of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland (CYPCS) identified an urgent need to develop knowledge and understanding of how to involve children in CRIA processes.

“It is important that our voice is heard, and our opinions considered in projects that involve us”

Member of Children’s Parliament

Child Rights Impact Assessments are recognised by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child as general measures of implementation for the UNCRC. They assess the impact of laws, policies, budgets, programmes, and services on children’s rights.

With CYPCS support, Children’s Parliament, along with Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights), the Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland, and East Lothian Children’s Services Partnership investigated how best to involve children and young people in the process of Child Rights Impact Assessments.  

Conclusions to improving Children’s Participation in CRIA’s

As our investigation demonstrates, children are experts in their own lives. When presented with meaningful, routine opportunities to share their views, ideas and experiences, we will have laws, policies, budget decisions, programmes and services that better reflect children’s best interests. Rather than another ‘tick-box’ exercise, CRIA and CRIE – as well as other forms of participatory decision-making tools – are a way to consider the impact of measures with a children’s rights lens. When children themselves are brought into this process, this lens is clearer, sharper and, as we found, brighter. After all, as we demonstrated through our approach to this investigation, engaging with children is dynamic, creative and a lot of fun. When children feel energised and valued, and have built positive, trusting relationships with adults interested in hearing their views and ideas, the magic happens and positive outcomes for children and adults are significantly strengthened.

Using a hybrid approach to engage children

We began with remotely delivering a full-day workshop in four schools. We had designed and sent out an activity box to each school. As the Children’s Parliament team, we introduced the workshop through an online video-call. The teachers facilitated and we checked in throughout the day.

Over the course of the day, the MCPs were introduced to children’s rights followed by activities that supported them to reflect on, what children feel needs to be addressed and improved by the local authority.

Then in each of the schools, we worked with teachers to select our ‘Investigators’. During weekly online calls, the Investigators discussed the ideas from the initial workshops, comparing views, ideas and experiences with the priorities set out in the East Lothian Children and Young People’s Service Plan. The Investigators led ‘missions’ with their class, short activities that were completed between the calls and informed the following investigator session.

Case study of involving children in CRIA’s:

Involving children in child rights impact assessment (CRIA): A case study with Members of Children’s Parliament in East Lothian, Scotland 

User guide for involving children in CRIA and CRIE:

‘Listen, engage have fun’: Guide on involving children in child rights impact assessment (CRIA) and child rights impact evaluation (CRIE). 

Delivered in partnership with Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, Together SACR, East Lothian Council, and Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland.

Date: 2021
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