November 20th is International Children’s Day, an annual event launched to celebrate children, and to highlight the difficulties they face in today’s world.
This year, Researching Reform has chosen to honour Children’s Day by asking the UK government to address three pressing issues affecting children in care:
1. Give all children engaged in child welfare proceedings an automatic right to speak to the judges overseeing their cases.
Researching Reform started campaigning for this right in 2014, after the government failed to make good on its promise to give children going through the family courts the chance to speak to judges about their cases. When we made a Freedom Of Information request in 2017 to find out what had happened to the plans, we discovered that the Ministry of Justice never enacted the policy. After writing an article for Lexis Nexis on the findings, we were then contacted by the BBC, who interviewed us about our Voice of the Child campaign. It’s very simple – if a court is meant to place a child’s best interests at the heart of every decision it makes, and a child wants to share their point of view with a judge, that request should never be denied.
2. End Forced Adoption in the UK and replace it with consensual adoption instead.
There’s a reason most countries around the world don’t use forced adoption. The practice causes significant distress, re-traumatises already vulnerable parents and children, and is completely unnecessary. If you feel the way we do, please sign our petition.
3. Stop councils advertising children online for adoption and fostering purposes.
It’s illegal, it’s dangerous and it doesn’t actually work. That’s our take on the routine marketing of babies and children by councils and agencies looking to put children up for adoption or fostering placements. It seems to be the view of most people we asked on Twitter, as well. If you’d like to find out more about why the practice is breaking the law, our article on the subject offers more information. If you’re a smarty pants and you already know, skip a step and sign our petition asking the government to stop the practice.
While there’s a great deal more that needs to be done, these issues are a good place to start. We know the government is listening. And the public is watching you.