Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Applying social work law with children and families
Applying social work law with children and families

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

2.2 From parental authority to rights of the child

Previously, the parental ‘rights’ and ‘duties’ that formed the basis of family law in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were adult-centred, rather than being focused on the child. In England and Wales, the Children Act 1989 (CA 1989) marked a profound change of approach from previous law. It moved from a frame of reference focused on parental authority and their rights to more of a system focused on the needs the child.

A similar shift towards more child-centred legislation and policy has also been seen in Scotland and Northern Ireland. For example, the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 put the Scottish child wellbeing framework Getting it Right for Every Child (Scottish Government, 2008) onto a statutory footing. The introduction of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 was a significant milestone in protecting children in Northern Ireland.

Globally, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (UNCRC) was created with the aim of encouraging governments worldwide to recognise the importance of children in society and to recognise that children have rights. You will look at the UNCRC in more detail next.