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The Social Services and Community Committee is seeking submissions on
the Child Poverty Reduction Bill. The bill aims to reduce child poverty
and improve the overall wellbeing of children.
The purpose of the bill is to:
• encourage governments and society to focus on reducing child
• hold governments to account against published targets
• require transparent reporting about levels of child poverty.
To achieve its purpose the bill would specify child poverty measures and ensure agencies work together to improve the wellbeing of children. It would also require:
• specific child poverty targets to be set
• reports about child poverty to be produced and published independently of Ministers
• the Government of the day to adopt, publish, and review a Government strategy for improving the wellbeing of all children, with a particular focus on child poverty and the needs of children at greater risk.
Social Services and Community Committee chair Gareth Hughes says the aim is to take significant, substantial, and sustained action to reduce child poverty and hardship in New Zealand.
“Children growing up poverty is one of the most important issues facing New Zealand and all Kiwi kids deserve the best start in life. I urge New Zealanders to have their say on this bill that will ensure present and future governments focus on reducing child poverty.”
23 February 2018
Press Release: Social Services and Community Committee
Cash-strapped local councils in England have closed more than 500 children’s centres since 2010, government figures have shown.
Critics say the figures, revealed in response to a written parliamentary question, show how provision for young families has collapsed. Councils are preparing for further steep cuts to services over the next few years.
“These cuts are impacting the most disadvantaged,” said Tracy Brabin, Labour’s shadow early years minister, whose parliamentary question forced the government to release the data. “Children’s centres are supporting parents who are in difficulty, but also parents who struggle with their parenting skills.”
Details of the closures follow research published by Barnardo’s in December that found funding for children’s centres in England had been halved from £1.2bn to £0.6bn since 2010. Of the 508 centres revealed in the latest figures to have been closed, more than 100 have been lost in London, while 76 have gone across the wider south-east region. The third most badly affected area was the east of England, with 75 closures.
In many parts of the country, the cuts are ongoing. Norfolk county council last week approved swingeing cuts that include a plan to halve the £10m budget for children’s centres. On the same day, councillors in Somerset unanimously agreed plans to close two-thirds of centres. It is not known whether cuts are planned for children’s centres in Northamptonshire, where officials gave notice at the beginning of the month that the council could become the first in two decades to file for bankruptcy.
Unlike nurseries, where parents leave their children in the care of others, children’s centres provide activities, resources and support for families as well as their children. Tackling family issues early can prevent more profound problems later, advocates say.
Brabin, who has been visiting centres in different parts of thecountry, said they provided services ranging from social services to stay-and-plays to English and numeracy classes.
“These centres are like a family member who’s there to guide and support you… It’s not just a patrician thing, it’s also peer support. The meeting I went to had a whole variety of different users, very different people of different backgrounds.”
A Department for Education spokesman said: “We want every child to have the best start in life, which is why we are determined to improve early years provision across the board. This includes a pledge to close the word gap and improve outcomes for the most disadvantaged children in the early years and a £200bn investment for local services, including children’s centres, up to 2020.”
By Damien Gayle
20 February 2018
In an indictment of the treatment of various governments towards juveniles, the apex court laid down specific guidelines
Nelson Mandela said: “Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation.” However, the state of children in India is a cause for concern. In 2005, Sampurna Behura, an individual who was concerned with the plight of children in the country, filed a petition in the Supreme Court drawing its attention to several Articles and Directive Principles of State Policy under the Constitution which impose primary responsibility on the State to ensure that the needs of children are met and their rights are protected. She drew attention to the Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on November 20, 1989, to which India is a signatory, which emphasises securing the best interests of the child, social reintegration of child victims, and so on.
The main issue of the petition was the failure of state governments to implement various provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, including the establishment of Child Welfare Committees (CWCs), Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs), Special Juvenile Police Units, establishment of appropriate homes for children in need of protection, improving the living conditions of juveniles in conflict with law, medical facilities for children in custody of the state and other human rights issues.
The petition was first taken up for consideration on September 26, 2005. Notices were issued to all the respondents (Union of India and states) which took about a year. On January 3, 2007, the matter was taken up and the Court observed that the Act of 2000 had not been implemented.
After a few more hearings, the Court impleaded the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA). During the course of hearing, the Court observed that CWCs and JJBs are not functional or not constituted in every district.
When the case was taken up for consideration on September 11, 2015, it was noticed from the affidavits filed by Union of India that a large number of children’s homes were not registered under the provisions of the Act of 2000. Thereafter, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, was passed and brought into force on January 15, 2016.
However the Court held: “The Act of 2000 has since been repealed and what is now in force is the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. The repeal of the Act of 2000 does not at all change the sum and substance of the reliefs claimed in the Public Interest Litigation. As such this petition though filed way back in 2005 is not infructuous; the issues raised being very much topical and alive even today.”
Supreme Court directions
On February 9, 2018, the Supreme Court bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta issued the following directions:
• The Ministry of Women and Child Development and
state governments should ensure that all positions in the NCPCR and the
SCPRs are filled up well in time and adequate staff is provided to these
• NCPCR and the SCPCRs should take their duties, functions and responsibilities with great earnestness.
• State-level Child Protection Societies and the district-level Child Protection Units to ensure that the Act of 2015 is effectively implemented and child care institutions are managed and maintained for the well-being of children in all respects, including nutrition, education, medical benefits, skill development and general living conditions.
• State governments must ensure that all positions in JJBs and CWCs are filled up expeditiously and in accordance with the rules framed.
• It is necessary for JJBs and CWCs to have sittings on a regular basis so that a minimal number of inquiries are pending at any given point of time and justice is given to all juveniles. This is a constitutional obligation.
• The Ministry of Women and Child Development must continue to make creative use of information and communication technology not only for the purpose of collecting data and information but also for other issues connected with the JJ Act such as having a database of missing children, trafficked children and for follow-up of adoption cases etc.
• There is a need to set up meaningful Special Juvenile Police Units and appoint Child Welfare Police Officers at the earliest and not only on paper.
• NALSA is being requested to carry forward the exercise and complete a similar report preferably before April 30, 2018, to assist all policy-making and decision-taking authorities to plan out their affairs.
• Each High Court and Juvenile Justice Committee of each High Court will continue its proactive role in the welfare of children in their state. The chief justice of every High Court is requested to register proceedings on its own motion for the effective implementation of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
• Finally, the Court urged the chief justice of each High Court to seriously consider establishing child-friendly courts and vulnerable witness courts in each district. Inquiries under the JJ Act and trials under other laws such as the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, require to be conducted with a high degree of sensitivity, care and empathy for the victim.
The Supreme Court bench also appreciated Sampurna Behura for highlighting the issues raised in her PIL and the counsel for the appearing parties in not making this an adversarial proceeding, but a constructive effort for the benefit of children.
By Sandeep Kumar
18 February 2018
South African Government and UNICEF promote community-based care, parenting and mencare at Swedish' Global Solutions summit to end violence against children
"Prevention programmes like Isibindi, which involves home visits by trained child and youth care workers to support families with children at-risk in South Africa, are proven interventions to contribute to violence prevention against children in the country", said Ms. Bathabile Dlamini, Minister, Department of Social Development, at the Global Solutions Summit on Violence against Children in Sweden. "In addition, evidence-based parenting programmes such as the Teenage Parenting programme, Sinovuyo, and MenCare Child Care and Protection programme have all shown positive impacts which we hope to scale up in coming years".
The Summit is being hosted by the Government of Sweden in close cooperation with the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children and We PROTECT Global Alliance with the support and collaboration of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, as well as relevant UN Agencies, NGOs and private sector actors.
End Violence is a platform that aims to build and strengthen a global movement to end violence against children. Together with 14 other countries in the world, South Africa became a Pathfinder country, on 12 December 2017. Pathfinder countries are expected to implement the following roadmap:
Build national leadership and political will;
Strengthen collaboration through multi-stakeholder platforms;
Accelerate action by developing and implementation of a national programme of action on violence against children;
Communicate the concerted actions as laid down in the national action plan to a broad audience.
Since 2015, Agenda 2030 calls for all countries and stakeholders to come together in a collaborative partnership to implement sustainable development goals to all, especially for the most vulnerable. The Global Partnership to End Violence is convening governments, UN agencies, international organisations, civil society, faith groups, the private sector, philanthropic foundation, researchers, academics and children in order to:
1. Build and sustain political will to achieve the SDGs, promoting evidence-based strategies that will lead to significant, sustained and measurable reductions in violence against children;
2. Work together with partners to accelerate action to tackle the violence that children face, with an initial focus on countries that wish to lead the global movement to end violence;
3. Strengthen collaboration amongst and between countries and with civil society and other stakeholders. End Violence will work with and supplement the efforts of existing partnerships.
Child protection and care is a key focus of the Government of South Africa and this commitment is best reflected in the significant investments Government is making to ensure the delivery of quality health, education and protection services to children. Yet too many children still experience violence and abuse that can cause lasting physical, mental and emotional harm and inflict on children's ability to become responsible, self-reliant and productive members of society.
Between 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys experience some form of violence prior to age 18 and many of them experience repeated and multiple forms of violence, most often by people they are close to and in places where they should feel safe – at home, in their communities and in schools. In disadvantaged communities, children often lack opportunities and safe spaces to learn, play and just enjoy their childhood.
In South Africa, Isibindi – Isibindi means 'courage' in Zulu – was designed by South Africa's National Association of Child and Youth Care Workers , supported by the Department of Social Development and UNICEF. The model involves home visits by 6,700 trained child and youth care workers to support families with children at-risk. This community-based programme aims to provide safety, play and structures for 352,000 children and youth in 400 Safe Parks and drop-in centres. The Isibindi model aims to respond holistically to the needs of children, youth and families who are vulnerable and at risk of abuse, violence, neglect and exploitation. Unemployed community members are screened, selected, trained and deployed as child and youth care workers servicing families in their own communities.
Combatting violence against children demands concerted action from all of us: let's act now!
15 February 2018
Issued by: Department of Social Development
Childhood illnesses, transience and a disastrous rate of homelessness in New Zealand evidenced by the Government's Stocktake on Housing report are attributable to a desperate lack of housing required to meet the needs of a growing population, says Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).
Between 2016 and 2017 New Zealand’s net population increase from immigration was over 70,000 with the largest growth concentrated in Auckland.
"Population growth is healthy and expected, but we just aren’t building homes fast enough, and existing housing is becoming more unaffordable due to demand," says Associate Professor Mike O’Brien, CPAG social security and child welfare spokesperson.
"Affordable first homes are virtually non-existent for our young people and families, while rents have soared, with competition for rental housing pushing families on the lowest of incomes into the arms of emergency housing. Last year the Ministry of Social Development reported a huge increase in emergency housing grants."
The "Priority A" social waiting housing list – being those considered to have "severe and persistent need that must be addressed immediately" – has more than doubled in number since 2015 – from 2100 in December 2015 to 4500 to December 2017.
"More and more families face the prospect of homelessness as a stress of everyday life," says O’Brien.
"Living in rental housing permanently is a reality for many families in New Zealand, yet out-dated rental policy does not currently reflect this. We have a lack of regulations around quality, cost and tenure. Tenants with children are often forced to take on periodic leases which do not assure them of any minimum length of tenure, and are subjected to frequent evictions."
"Spending upwards of $50 million on motel accommodation for families as transitional housing is not the answer; this provides temporary shelter, but some places may be unsafe for children," says Professor Innes Asher, paediatrician and CPAG health spokesperson.
Many of the illnesses children are admitted to hospital with are caused by poor housing conditions, as dampness, cold and mould exacerbates respiratory illnesses, and overcrowding causes rapid transmission within a household.
"Every day in New Zealand about 100 children are admitted to hospital with preventable illnesses related to substandard housing," says Asher.
"Children’s education too, is adversely impacted by lack of a stable, secure, stress-free home. On top of having time off through illness, they may also unable to manage homework, have gaps in their learning, and are more likely to experience mental health issues."
CPAG recommends that, as a matter of great urgency, thousands of state houses should be built, and that the Government should update the Residential Tenancies Bill to include:
12 February 2018
Press Release: Child Poverty Action Group
Province also building more child care spaces to support Indigenous families
Ontario is expanding culturally relevant licensed child care and early years programs, and investing in more child care spaces for First Nation, Métis and Inuit children and their families living in urban and rural areas across the province.
Indira Naidoo-Harris, Minister of Education and Minister Responsible for Early Years and Child Care, was at the First Nations School of Toronto where the province is investing in significant upgrades to the school, including four new child care rooms to create 64 new licensed child care spaces and one new child and family program room.
As part of The Journey Together: Ontario's Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, the province is also enhancing existing and supporting new child care and child and family programs in 58 off-reserve projects led by Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous organizations. This includes culturally relevant programming, advice, personal connections, resources and play- and inquiry-based learning for Indigenous children and families.
Creating more opportunity for Indigenous learners and their families is one of many steps on Ontario's journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. It reflects the government's commitment to work with Indigenous partners and create a better future for everyone in the province.
• Ontario is supporting Indigenous children and
their families by investing up to $70 million over two years in child
care and child and family programs developed in partnership with
municipal service managers and Indigenous organizations.
• Ontario is investing $11.5 million in upgrades and enhancements to the First Nations School of Toronto.
• In 2018, Ontario is investing $784 million in 79 new and renovated schools across the province. This investment will also create a total of more than 2,700 new licensed child care spaces for children aged 0-4.
• Ontario is investing up to $1.6 billion in new capital funding over the next five years to support the creation of 45,000 new licensed child care spaces in schools, other public spaces and communities.
• Research shows that there are positive relationships between quality early learning, child development outcomes, and a parent’s ability to work.
9 February 2018
Ministry of Education
Every half a second, every day, a child goes online for the first time – tapping into all the great opportunities the Internet has to offer, but facing grave risks, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said Tuesday, calling for urgent action to protect them from sexual exploitation, cyberbullying and the misuse of their private information.
“The potential of connectivity makes it easier for children to connect with their peers anywhere in the world […] is a tool for children’s empowerment and engagement with their communities. However, this connectivity puts them at risk of their private information, access to harmful content, and cyberbullying,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Pacific Representative.
As outlined in The State of the World’s Children 2017: Children in a digital world Worldwide, one-in-three internet users is a child, and yet too little is done to protect them from digital world perils.
“Every day, thousands of children are going online for the first time, which opens them up to a flood of dangers we are just coming to appreciate, let alone address,” said Laurence Chandy, UNICEF Director of Data, Research and Policy.
“While governments and the private sector have made some progress in formulating policies and approaches to eliminate the most egregious online risks, more effort must be made to fully understand and protect children’s online lives,” he added.
UNICEF is working with governments in the Pacific to deliver cyber safety programmes particularly in Tonga and Samoa and provide tips to parents on how to protect their children online.
“Collective action – by governments, the private sector, children’s organizations, academia, families and children themselves – is needed to level the digital playing field and ensure safer internet spaces for children,” Mr. Chandy affirmed.
The report underscores that everyone is obliged to protect children in the digital world, including governments, families, schools and other institutions – with a special note that technology and telecommunication industries have a significant responsibility to shape the impact of digital technology on children.
UNICEF is calling for renewed urgency and cooperation among governments, civil society, UN agencies and, most significantly, the private sector, to put children at the centre of digital policy by coordinating global, regional and national responses; safeguarding children’s privacy; empowering children online through more equitable access and digital literacy; and investing in better evidence about access, opportunities and risks for children online.
“In the time it takes to click on a link, a child somewhere begins creating a digital trail which those not necessarily considering the child’s best interest can follow and potentially exploit,” Mr. Chandy stressed.
“As younger and younger children join the Internet, the need to have a serious discussion about how to keep them safe online and secure their digital footprint becomes increasingly urgent,” he concluded.
7 February 2018
Press Release: United Nations
LGBT Youth Scotland launches Life in Scotland for LGBT Young People today, drawing on the responses of 684 young people aged 13-25 from across Scotland. This is the largest research of its kind in Scotland and includes new information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people’s experiences of education, hate crime and mental health.
The report highlights that, despite changes in legislation and improved legal protection in Scotland, much needs to be done to improve the day-to-day lives of LGBT young people.
Key findings include:
• Just over a third (35%) of LGBT young people said that they had experienced a hate crime or incident in the past year and less than a third (31%) said they would feel confident about reporting a hate crime to the police.
“[I was] Spat on, hit with glass bottles,
punched, kicked, death threats.”
“I get very transphobic messages and snapchats sent to me most days.”
“I’ve been verbally attacked because people have been confused about my gender or why I dress the way I do.”
• 71% of LGBT young people experienced bullying in school on the
grounds of being LGBT. This is a rise from 69% in 2012 and 60% in 2007.
• 9% of LGBT young people and 27% of transgender young people left education as result of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in the learning environment.
“Due to the fact I was bullied in high school
…I developed depression...and anxiety. My deteriorating mental health
meant that I spent a lot of time unable to function.”
“...My academic achievement suffered... [This has] now affected me going on to university and I have instead had to go to college.”
• 84% of LGBT young people, and 100% of transgender young people,
indicated that they had experienced mental health problems and
• Half (50%) of LGBT young people and 63% of transgender young people experienced suicidal thoughts or behaviours
The report does highlight some positive changes; however, this is not consistent across the population/sample:
• 81% of LGBT young people said that Scotland is a good place for
LGBT young people to live; an increase since 2012.
• However, only 52% of transgender young people thought that Scotland was a good place to live and there has been no movement on this figure in the past 5 years.
• While 70% of LGBT young people living in urban areas feel that their local area is a good place for LGBT young people to live only 39% of their peers in rural areas are likely to agree.
“Areas such as Glasgow are fabby for the
LGBT+ community but my local area… is horrible and full of bigots. Lack
of education and small mindedness.”
“All in all, Scotland has become very progressive and forward thinking in relation to LGBT youth, there are some areas that could be improved but that is more down to the local areas and schools than the country as a whole.”
The findings of the research will be launched on the first day of LGBT History Month in Scotland at a conference delivered by Children in Scotland and LGBT Youth Scotland, An Equal Future? with more than 120 delegates attending from across Scotland.
Chief Executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, Fergus McMillan said:
"Our new Life in Scotland report captures a snapshot of what it’s like to be an LGBT young person growing-up in Scotland today. The findings of this year’s report show that some experiences have changed, but not all in a positive direction.
While a high proportion of respondents believe that Scotland is a good place to grow up, there are young people in rural areas that don't share that view. Sadly, transgender young people continue to face significant prejudice and discrimination and experience the highest rates of bullying and hate crime.
The report shows how far we have come but highlights the continued need for attention to the experiences of bullying at school and suicidal feelings amongst LGBT young people."
1 February 2018
Source: LGBT Youth Scotland
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone has today announced that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Tusla – the Child and Family Agency and the INMO (representing Public Health Nurses) have reached an agreement at the Labour Court regarding the future recruitment of Early Years Inspectors within Tusla. Tusla is responsible for inspecting pre-schools, play groups, day nursery, crèches, day-care and similar services which cater for children aged 0-6 years.
To date, EY Inspector positions have required candidates to be registered as a Public Health Nurse and hold a QQI Level 9 qualification (Masters Level). Changes to the Early Years Care and Education sector in recent years and the increasing professionalisation of that workforce had led to calls for a broadening of eligibility to the post of Early Years Inspector. The recent Labour Court recommendation will allow various professions to apply for these posts, including for the first time graduates from Early Years Care and Education, as well as candidates with suitable qualifications in social care, social work, psychology and education. 20% of the childcare workforce now holds a degree.
Minister Zappone welcomed the Labour Court recommendation saying:-
“This development reflects the on-going professionalisation of the Early Years sector. The broadening of criteria for the recruitment of Inspectors will complement and strengthen the great work that Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate has been progressing in recent years. The last 18 months has seen massive steps forward in our goal to transform childcare in Ireland. I welcome the recommendation of the Labour Court and recognise that it marks another milestone in the professionalisation of the sector and the development of high quality, accessible services for children and families.”
Minister Zappone secured an increase of 7% in capitation to providers of the free pre-school scheme or ECCE in the recent budget, which commences this September. Further increases are available for services that complete training as part of the Minister’s initiative to make childcare services more accessible to children with disabilities (AIM). An Independent Review into the Cost of Delivery of Quality Childcare is currently underway by Crowe Howarth.
2 February 2018
Following last week's emergency meeting on Indigenous child welfare in Ottawa, convened by Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates (CCCYA) has issued the following statement:
As independent child advocates from nine provinces and two territories, we are dedicated to promoting and fostering respect for the rights of all children and youth and, in particular, their fundamental rights to health, safety, education and well-being.
Federal Ministers and others have stated that the over-representation of Indigenous children and youth in care in Canada has reached "crisis" proportions. We acknowledge that it presents a significant challenge for our country, compounded by the legacy of colonization, residential schools, racism and extreme poverty.
We recognize that addressing this over-representation is not the sole responsibility of the federal government or a single province, territory, Indigenous nation or organization. Finding solutions is a shared responsibility requiring comprehensive and coordinated attention and action across the country. It must involve community consultation and include the voices of children and youth who continue to be negatively impacted by these unresolved disparities.
In reply to the Ministers' comments and the reasons for this meeting, we respond as privileged witnesses. In our jurisdictions, we hear daily from Indigenous children, youth and their families about their experiences in the child welfare system. We stand with children and youth, and hope that their voices are heard directly. As members of the CCCYA, we agree to the following:
1.We recognize that coordinated solutions with both immediate and long-term actions are required to improve the living conditions and well-being of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children and youth in Canada. We call for immediate and long-term action to address the social determinants of health for these children and youth, including adequate housing, elimination of poverty, improvements to infrastructure, and ensuring clean water and food security.
2.We are committed to a process for change that will support reconciliation.
3.We believe that the voices of children and youth are integral to any process designed to improve their lives.
4.We believe that Indigenous peoples have the inherent right to self-determination, including the right to care for their children.
5.As the CCCYA expressed through our Declaration of Reconciliation at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's closing events in June 2015, we call for the implementation of the TRC's Calls to Action. We acknowledge the negative impact that colonization, residential schools, the '60s Scoop and the current child welfare system have had on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children and youth.
6.We believe that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is the cornerstone of all children's rights and that its implementation must be informed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
About the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates
The Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates is an alliance of legislatively mandated advocates for the rights of children and youth. These advocates may operate under various titles (e.g. Advocate, Representative, Ombudsman, Commissioner), but all are official representatives in their particular provinces and territories. All CCCYA members are independent statutory officers who report directly to the Legislative Assembly of their respective jurisdictions. Each CCCYA member office is established by legislation to operate in a manner that is independent from government authority or control. Council includes members from the nine provinces and two territories of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Québec, Saskatchewan, and Yukon.
Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates
31 January 2018