Children's rights
in the new normal:

Recommendations for councils and their partners

In brief

  • When the UK went into lockdown in spring 2020, years of public service innovation took place in a matter of months.
  • At the same time, the way we think about our local community and our expectations of local services have fundamentally changed.
  • Given the speed of change, it is crucial that children’s rights are not overlooked as we return to (some form of) normal.
  • Our New Normal series offers a child rights-based approach to some of the seismic shifts councils and their partners are grappling with as the dust settles and they look to the future of public service delivery.
This series sets out practical steps councils and their partners can take to keep children’s rights front and centre of the ‘new normal'.

Recommendations will be published monthly around eight key areas:

• Access to information and services
• Mental health
• Children at risk
• Housing
• Play and the built environment
• Policing
• The climate crisis
• Crisis response

Children’s rights in the new normal

Covid-19 disrupted the life of every child and young person in the UK. Beyond the direct health consequences of the virus itself, the pandemic cut off children’s access to education and services; exacerbated child poverty and deep-rooted inequalities; and exposed and increased the risks facing already marginalised children in their homes and communities.

Councils and their partners were quick to learn and adapt, moving rapidly online and responding to new problems with innovative solutions. Yet the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the country’s already overstretched and underfunded local services.

At the same time – as a result of suddenly being restricted to the few streets around us – the way we think about our local community has fundamentally changed. The role of the neighbourhood where we live and, in many cases, now work, has taken on increased importance, and councils are having to re-think how to deliver quality homes, access to green space and sustainable placemaking for children in even the most densely populated urban areas.

Innovation thrives in a crisis, and many of these changes are here to stay. Given the speed of change, it is crucial that children’s rights – the building blocks of effective, equitable and non-discriminatory services – are not overlooked.

Table of contents

Scroll down to read the recommendations or click here for a table of contents

Table of contents

Access to information and services

Click here for the full recommendations, case studies and resources

In brief

  • While there are undoubtedly huge benefits to digital service delivery and engagement, the speed at which many services have moved online has left little time for local authorities to fully assess the impact on children.
  • If digital councils are here to stay, work needs to happen now to understand how the shift online has impacted children’s rights and, if negatively, how to mitigate those impacts.
  • At the same time, there is a growing awareness of the gaping digital divide in the UK that prevents some of the most marginalised children and their families from accessing services, information and the opportunity to participate. These groups cannot be left behind as councils move forward.

FULL REPORT

Read our recommendations for taking a child rights-based approach to access to information and services, as well as case studies and supporting resources

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Mental health

Click here for the full recommendations, case studies and resources

In brief

  • The mental health of the UK’s children and young people was deteriorating before Covid-19, but the pandemic has taken a devastating toll on their mental wellbeing.
  • As mental health services reach tipping point, councils and their partners face enormous challenges to ensure local children get the urgent help they need.
  • Against this backdrop, it is key that councils and their partners frame good mental health as a basic human right; one all children and young people are entitled to.

FULL REPORT

Read our recommendations for taking a child rights-based approach to mental health, as well as case studies and supporting resources

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