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Theory of Change for Making Children's Rights Real: Brief Interactive Report

Making Children's Rights Real

Date produced • 18/05/2022
Date expires • 16/08/2023

This report was generated by OutNav using the theory-based approach to evaluation pioneered by Matter of Focus.

Content

Theory of Change for Making Children's Rights Real: Brief Interactive Report

1. Background

Background

The Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill in a landmark vote in March 2021. Many people and organisations in Scotland have since been considering how best to implement the Bill and ensure children’s human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.

While the 2021 Bill cannot receive Royal Assent in its current form (due to the October 2021 Supreme Court judgment),[1] the Scottish Government remains committed to incorporating the UNCRC into Scots law to the maximum extent possible and as soon as practicable. At time of writing, the Scottish Government was engaging with key stakeholders on necessary amendments to the Bill in preparation for bringing it back to the Scottish Parliament for reconsideration. While the Scottish Government has been considering the most effective way forward for this legislation, the majority of the work on the UNCRC Implementation Strategy is proceeding. 

To support this transformative change, the Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland (“the Observatory”), Matter of Focus and Public Health Scotland were awarded a grant by the Scottish Government, to lead a collaborative effort to develop a Theory of Change for the process of UNCRC implementation in Scotland.

Several workshops and sessions were held with a range of stakeholders including children and young people, civil society, public services, teams across Scottish Government and associated strategic groups. Altogether, the Theory of Change was developed and refined through engagement with over 60 organisations. Alongside the collaborative process of developing the Theory of Change, rapid reviews were commissioned to examine the evidence on what best effects change, and how to apply this to the Scottish context, through the Theory of Change. 

 

[1] Accurate at time of writing. For more information on the 2021 Supreme Court judgment, see https://togetherscotland.blog/2021/10/06/supreme-court-judgment-heres-what-you-need-to-know/.

Introducing the Theory of Change

Our Theory of Change sets out what needs to be done, who needs to be engaged, the response and commitment that is needed and how these will flow through a series of connected steps, to embedding children’s rights meaningfully in Scotland.

Following both available evidence and expert engagement, four interrelated and co-dependent ‘outcome maps’ have been developed to represent core change processes for UNCRC implementation. An ‘outcome map’ is a flexible tool meaningfully connecting your actions with the results you expect to see at different levels of change. It is simple enough to be practical and complex enough to highlight or hold many different possible journeys through the change.

  1. Policy - This includes policy adaptation, coordination, administrative integration and budgetary consideration
  2. Capacity - This includes building cross-sector capacity and capability to integrate rights-based ways of working
  3. Culture - This includes changing attitudes, norms, values and everyday actions
  4. Empowerment - This includes ensuring a system of information, advocacy, complaints, redress and effective remedy for children and young people

The maps show what this work means for ‘everyone’- the wider population in Scotland; all children and young people, with an emphasis on those whose rights are most at risk; parents and carers; people who work directly with children and young people every day; and the broader group whose work directly and indirectly impacts on children. Some of these have been identified as ‘duty-bearers’ who must respect, protect and fulfil children’s human rights.

Assumptions and risks

Each outcome map represents the positive changes envisaged to realise children’s rights. Assumptions and risks have been developed to read alongside each map to show wider contextual factors that might help or hinder this change. Assumptions and risks are shown below and should be read alongside each outcome map.


Policy - This includes policy adaptation, coordination, administrative integration and budgetary consideration

Assumptions

  • High level, strategic leadership drives the policy change forward.
  • Effective approaches are used to coordinate implementation across policy areas.
  • With capacity and support, tools such as Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments are both done and used well.
  • Implementation is robustly monitored and the system has capacity to accommodate and grow from positive and negative experiences and challenges.
  • A children’s rights-based approach to budgeting is taken and there are sufficient resources for this.
  • Children's human rights provide a framework within which other policies are connected and contextualised (e.g. GIRFEC, The Promise).
  • The participation of children, young people, parents and carers in policy development is meaningful, including that they are prepared, informed and supported.
  • This work considers all rights and all children and young people, with particular care and attention to those whose rights are most at risk (this includes the availability of data that can be disaggregated).

Risks

  • People do not implement the Bill holistically or in a coordinated way.  
  • People do not see this as their responsibility, especially in wider disciplines.
  • Children’s rights are not adequately prioritised in the face of competing demands.
  • Children’s rights are not fully met because of the complexity of reserved and devolved powers in Scotland.
  • Monitoring is insufficiently robust to inform progress.
  • There is an implementation gap (for example without adequate funding at the local level, policy will fail to create the intended change).
  • Timelines are unrealistic for the scale of the change.
  • Public awareness and opinion does not keep pace with policy development.
  • There is insufficient transparency about how feedback is informing continued progress.
  • Participation is not done, or it is not done well or meaningfully.
  • Particular children and young people or particular contexts are missing from consideration.
  • Competing policy priorities overshadow the commitments to implement children’s rights effectively


Capacity - This includes building cross-sector capacity and capability to integrate rights-based ways of working 

Assumptions

  • Systems can be enhanced, improved or redesigned to strengthen rights-respecting approaches.
  • This gains the attention of people whose work directly or indirectly impacts children and young people, and people feel this is relevant to them.
  • A thoughtful and careful approach to capacity-building is taken, based on what people need.
  • It is possible to foster strong intentions at all levels to put into practice a rights-based approach.
  • Environments are permissive and enable people to have time and capacity to process what is needed of them.
  • We build the system’s capacity to accommodate and grow from positive and negative experiences and challenges (the system listens and communicates).
  • Tangible successes in some parts of the system reinforce and lead to successes elsewhere.
  • Duty bearers’ obligations are understood and held at system and organisational levels.
  • Public awareness and opinion keep pace with practice changes.
  • A children’s rights-based approach to budgeting is taken and there are sufficient resources for this.
  • Strong leaders and early adopters champion a rights-based approach and system leaders/entrepreneurs coordinate and make connections across the system.
  • The participation of children, young people, parents and carers is meaningful, including that they are prepared, informed and supported.
  • This work considers all rights and all children and young people, with particular care and attention to those whose rights are most at risk.

Risks

  • Systems discourage or hinder people from working in a children’s rights-based way.
  • Action is taken that is not well-evidenced or does not lead to the desired changes.
  • The scale of this work is inherently challenging and people may have unrealistic timescales.
  • People perceive a children’s rights-based approach as peripheral or not relevant to them, especially in the wider group of people whose work directly or indirectly impacts children and young people.
  • A children’s rights-based approach is seen as an add-on, and separate to other imperatives, whereas it should underpin all policy and practice.
  • There is cultural resistance to the concept of children’s human rights or to individual rights.
  • Practitioners themselves are not sufficiently nurtured and supported to have the emotional capacity for this way of working.
  • Duties and obligations are not held at every level in the system, leading to a lack of support for individuals.
  • A piecemeal approach fails to deliver whole system change.
  • Without adequate funding at the local level, policy will fail to create the intended change.
  • Participation is not done, or it is not done well or meaningfully.
  • Particular children and young people or particular contexts are missing from consideration.


Culture - This includes changing attitudes, norms, values and everyday actions 

Assumptions

  • Children and young people's views, ideas and energy are a driving force for change.
  • Children’s human rights are articulated in a way that is accessible and relatable.
  • Everyone adopts the language of children's human rights.
  • Awareness and culture change programmes work across multiple levels/sectors/stakeholders at once.
  • We have and apply an understanding of the relevant social or reference groups who support positive or harmful norms.
  • People connect with the principles and values of a children’s rights-based approach in a relational and meaningful way.
  • People have opportunities to experience a children’s rights-based approach in practice, especially in communities experiencing intergenerational tensions or conflicts, around access to public space for example or concerns about anti-social behaviour.
  • Adequate resources are provided for information and awareness programmes and demonstration work at local level.
  • The participation of children, young people, parents and carers is meaningful, including that they are prepared, informed and supported.
  • All of the rights of the child are understood as being held by all children and young people.

Risks

  • Cultural norms may be intractable, and some groups or social networks could be left behind.
  • Children’s rights language may be experienced as unfamiliar, formal or complex.
  • Media and social media representation may be antagonistic to the concept of human rights in general or to recognising children and young people’s capacities and contributions. There is a risk that children’s rights are seen as being in conflict with parents’ and carers’ responsibilities and choices.
  • Discourses within public services may be out of step with the values and opinions of parts of the broader population.
  • Without adequate funding at the local level, culture change programmes will fail to create the intended change.
  • What children and young people learn about their rights does not match their daily experiences and how they are treated, for all children and young people but particularly those whose rights are most at risk.
  • Public sympathies may be with some children and not others.
  • Participation is not done, or it is not done well or meaningfully.
  • Too great a burden is placed on children and young people to make the change rather than adults leading by example.


Empowerment - This includes ensuring a system of information, advocacy, complaints, redress and effective remedy for children and young people 

Assumptions

  • Together we build a clear and shared vision of what effective remedy looks like and feels like.
  • Children and young people and the adults around them know what children’s rights are and can challenge rights breaches.
  • All children, young people, parents, carers and those working everyday with children and young people know how to access justice.
  • Children and young people have stable and trusting relationships with adults, providing support for children and young people to understand and access their rights.
  • Roles and accountabilities are clear.
  • Duty bearers are positive and responsive in receiving feedback and complaints from children, young people, parents and carers.
  • Information, advocacy, complaints, redress and remedy are adequately resourced.
  • Care and attention are given to working with children and young people in a rights-based way, when children and young people may disagree with decisions made about their lives, or do not perceive these as being aligned with their rights.

Risks

  • What children and young people learn about their rights does not match their daily experiences and how they are treated, for all children and young people but particularly those whose rights are most at risk.
  • Roles and accountabilities are unclear and the system is too complex to navigate.
  • The views of children, young people, parents and carers fail to inform improvements and they are dismissed as being adversarial.
  • Children, young people, parents and carers have poor experiences and these may confirm any pre-existing low expectations.
  • Some children and young people, particularly those whose rights are most at risk, are excluded by the processes.
  • Access to justice is too complex, too slow and too unfamiliar.
  • The system is too big, complex or entrenched to change and a focus on individual cases fails to lead to system change.
  • The system of information, advocacy, complaints, redress and remedy is inadequately or unevenly resourced.


Theory of Change for Making Children's Rights Real: Brief Interactive Report

2. Our pathways

Theory of Change for Making Children's Rights Real: Brief Interactive Report

3. 1. Policy: policy adaptation, coordination, administrative integration and budgetary consideration Pathway progress

Pathway legend Close

Great
Progress
Some
Progress
Low
Progress
High Confidence
Some Confidence
Low Confidence

This image shows a high-level summary of how well the project is progressing and how confident the team is in the evidence. The key shows how the colour coding works.

See the standards against which progress and evidence have been assessed.

Theory of Change for Making Children's Rights Real: Brief Interactive Report

4. 2. Capacity: building cross-sector capacity and capability to integrate rights-based ways of working Pathway progress

Pathway legend Close

Great
Progress
Some
Progress
Low
Progress
High Confidence
Some Confidence
Low Confidence

This image shows a high-level summary of how well the project is progressing and how confident the team is in the evidence. The key shows how the colour coding works.

See the standards against which progress and evidence have been assessed.

Theory of Change for Making Children's Rights Real: Brief Interactive Report

5. 3. Culture: changing attitudes, norms, values and everyday actions Pathway progress

Pathway legend Close

Great
Progress
Some
Progress
Low
Progress
High Confidence
Some Confidence
Low Confidence

This image shows a high-level summary of how well the project is progressing and how confident the team is in the evidence. The key shows how the colour coding works.

See the standards against which progress and evidence have been assessed.

Theory of Change for Making Children's Rights Real: Brief Interactive Report

6. 4. Empowerment: ensuring a system of information, advocacy, complaints, redress and effective remedy Pathway progress

Pathway legend Close

Great
Progress
Some
Progress
Low
Progress
High Confidence
Some Confidence
Low Confidence

This image shows a high-level summary of how well the project is progressing and how confident the team is in the evidence. The key shows how the colour coding works.

See the standards against which progress and evidence have been assessed.

Theory of Change for Making Children's Rights Real: Brief Interactive Report

7. Next steps and further information

A Theory of Change approach is one way of managing change in complex systems. It will help to provide a shared language to describe the actions that are taken, highlight to the best of our current knowledge and understanding what approaches are likely to be important and support duty-bearers to create their own action plans by considering their starting points and which parts of the Theory of Change apply to them. It will be possible for people and organisations to use the Theory of Change as a flexible tool for monitoring, channelling the learning and adapting their work, including in identifying both early and longer-term indicators of progress. Our full report offers reflections on how to apply the Theory of Change to your work and meaningfully monitor progress.

The process of developing the Theory of Change has been a valuable one for UNCRC implementation in developing shared understanding and ownership and also by engaging stakeholders with varying levels of readiness and priorities in these preparatory conversations.

The collaborative Theory of Change process has underlined the ambition of UNCRC implementation, for transformative change to realise children’s human rights. By taking a strategic and co-ordinated approach, we can work towards meeting that ambition.

For further detail about the Theory of Change for Making Children's Rights Real in Scotland, refer to the following:

For any questions on the project, or if you wish to discuss opportunities to take this work forward, please do get in touch at childrens.rights@ed.ac.uk.

Theory of Change for Making Children's Rights Real: Brief Interactive Report

Theory of Change for Making Children's Rights Real: Brief Interactive Report

This report has been created using OutNavTM
developed by Matter of Focus.

OutNav is an innovative online platform that takes teams on a logical,
user-friendly journey to develop and manage a meaningful approach to
outcome-focused monitoring and evaluation.

Date produced: 18/05/2022
Date expires: 16/08/2023

OutNav Logo

This report was generated by OutNav using the theory-based approach to evaluation pioneered by Matter of Focus.