Meet the Scottish Government Children’s Rights Unit

June 13, 2024 by No Comments | Category Meet our teams, Our work


Nice to meet you.  Thanks for clicking the ‘read’ button.  

Our team 

We would like to introduce you to the work of the Empowered Team in the Children’s Rights Unit. There are currently 4 members, Paul, Shelly, Caroline, and Eve but there are others like Steph and Ann-Marie who have recently left that have been a big part of who we are.  

We are part of a wider movement within the Scottish Government who are passionate about participation and engagement. With being in the Children’s Rights team our obvious focus is how we meaningfully engage with children and young people.  

Children and young people (CYP) participation 

The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that children and young people are at the heart of decisions which affect them. We want our children to have the confidence and skills to influence decisions around them. This principle of meaningful participation is central to the adoption of a children’s human rights approach and acts as a guiding ‘General Principle’ of the UNCRC. 

Our wider unit have worked on the  United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Act 2024 ( which incorporates Article 12 of the UNCRC. This means that children have the right to express a view in relation to decisions that affect them, and for their views to be given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity.   

There are two key projects which demonstrates two different approaches to how we ensure the Scottish Government is involving CYP in our work. The first is our Participation Framework, which ensures policy teams can engage with CYP in their decision-making work – it is adult-initiated.  The second is the CYP Executive Team and Cabinet Takeovers – this is child-initiated. Caroline and Shelly share more information below on each of these. 

The Participation Framework  

Hi, I’m Caroline and I think I have one of the best jobs in the Scottish Government. 

It was earlier this year that we kicked-off the CYP Participation Framework Agreement, but our journey towards more meaningful engagement with children and young people started some time before that.  

Over recent years we’ve been exploring what meaningful engagement looks like, what works well, and what doesn’t. We haven’t been doing this in isolation. We invited reflections from policy teams, children and young people, and the organisations that support them. Unsurprisingly, their feedback highlighted praise and pitfalls. It was clear that many shared our passion about quality participation and were keen to see improvement. 

We listened carefully. We saw potential. With UNCRC implementation underway we were already observing how the role of children and young people was evolving and shifting.  

Our procurement colleagues were a major asset. We explained that we needed: opportunities to engage with a broad range of children and young people as well as those from specific groups; and an approach that was consistent yet flexible, built on relationships, expert-led and driven by quality, yet quick and easy to understand and use.  

Enter the CYP Participation Framework Agreement: a quicker and slicker way to engage meaningfully with children and young people through partnerships with children’s organisations. You can read more about the development of the Framework in our Public Procurement and Property blog post. 

Now, whether it’s parks or potholes, fisheries or fly-tipping, the Scottish Government has an efficient and effective way to find out what children and young people think about matters that affect them. 

The Executive Team and Cabinet Takeovers 

Hi, I’m Shelly and I think I have one of the best jobs in the Scottish Government!  

I get to work very closely with key decision-makers in the Executive Team and the Cabinet and those that support them, I also work with children and young people from across Scotland.   

Each year we demonstrate at the highest levels of government that we are listening to the views and experiences of young people and meaningfully engaging with them on the issues that most matter. These ‘take-over’ meetings by children and young people have been happening since 2017, we don’t know of any other government world-wide that that makes this offer so we see them as unique.  

The process starts with Children’s Parliament and Scottish Youth Parliament engaging with 1000’s of children and young people, investigating their top issues and where they would most like to see change and action by the government. They then facilitate a national vote to arrive at the final 6 issues and these are presented and brought to life at an ET meeting in summer and then a Cabinet meeting in autumn. There are actions that are agreed at each meeting and then the deep work begins with Director Generals and policy teams to bring about change. Children and young people lead on what issues they want to bring, how they present them, what the agenda and meetings look like and are even involved in working with some policy teams.   

Our Approach  

Hi, I’m Paul and I think I have one of the best jobs in the Scottish Government!   

As the leader of the team, I invite us to adopt a systems and collective approach to our work which connects to complexity theory. This means we pay attention to what is emerging in systems and carry out small actions that lead to new ways of  thinking. This fits nicely with participation as it demands us to work with uncertainty.   

If you would like to find out more about our work or how we work, please contact our mailbox:  

Read our other posts on the Participation blog. Meet our teams, learn about lived experience, and follow along our A-Z of participation.

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