The Children Act 2004
The Children Act 2004 makes provision about services provided to and for children and young people by local authorities and other bodies and requires that they work together in improving the well-being of children in the local area. It enables local authorities and its statutory partners to pool their budgets and non-financial resources.
The UK Government resisted amendments proposed by the Welsh Assembly Government to introduce the Convention as a framework for service provision. Legislation which is based directly on the rights of the UNCRC would have undoubtedly led to a stronger rights-based framework for children. However, through the National Assembly using subordinate legislative powers this position was retrieved to some extent as the Act contains separate parts about the provision of children's services in Wales:
"The Assembly Government has adopted the UN Convention as the foundation for all its dealings with children and young people, and local authorities and their relevant partners should have regard to its principles in providing services" (sec 2.11)
Strategic partnerships (known as children and young people partnerships) have been in place since 2002 and have been on a statutory footing since the above legislation in 2004. Local authorities and key partner agencies are required in law to cooperate to improve the well-being of children and young people in the local area. The Children Act 2004 placed a duty on every local authority in Wales to appoint a lead director and lead member for children and young people’s services.
Local health boards have to designate lead officers and lead members of NHS Trusts designate lead executive and non-executive directors with responsibilities mirroring those of the local authority lead director.
Each of the 22 Children and Young People Partnerships are required to produce a children and young people’s plan setting out "how the well-being of children and young people will be improved". These plans are based on the Assembly Government’s 7 Core Aims which are a direct translation of the UNCRC.
- A flying start in life: Articles 3, 29, 36
- A comprehensive range of education and learning opportunities: Articles 23, 28, 29, 32
- Enjoy the best possible health and freedom from abuse, victimisation and exploitation: Articles 6, 18-20, 24, 26-29, 32-35, 37 and 40.
- Access to play, leisure, sporting and cultural activities: Articles 15, 20, 29, 31
- Be listened to, treated with respect and have their race and cultural identity recognised: Articles 2, 7, 8, 12-17, 20.
- Have a safe home and community which supports physical and emotional well-being: Articles 19, 20, 25, 27, 32-35, 37 and 40.
- Are not disadvantaged by poverty: Articles 6, 26, 7, 28.