Local councils play a vital role in shaping cities and communities though the services they provide.

This includes universal services that every child might use – like schools, libraries or leisure centres – through to more targeted services, such as protection from abuse and neglect (child protection), accommodation and care for children who are looked after by the council or services for children with disabilities.

Through public services, councils and their partners safeguard and nurture the well-being of all children and young people in their city or community. Children’s experiences of these services have a huge impact on their lives, both now and in the future. But all too often, these services are not built around their views and experiences and can feel disjointed and disconnected. Children and young people in vulnerable situations are even less likely to have their views heard and taken into account, leaving them in danger of becoming marginalised and falling through the cracks.

Councils are responsible for planning, delivering or commissioning these services, which can be provided directly by the council or through a third or private sector partner chosen by the council. No matter how a service is delivered, councils have a duty to provide the support services their local children need, and they have an obligation, under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of all the children in their area.

With a child rights-based approach, councils and their partners will be able to work with and for children in a more responsive, collaborative and empowering way. Children will know what services are available, experience more connected services and understand how to access and navigate the often complex systems. Children will have a meaningful say in any actions and decisions that affect them as well as in how services are designed and delivered. They will know and understand their rights, and be able to hold their council to account. Professionals will feel empowered to make sure children’s rights are protected and realised.

We work directly with councils and their partners – such as local councillors, commissioning managers, social workers, early years professionals, the local community and voluntary sector workforce – to enable them to advance children’s rights across the city or community.