Using Children's Rights in Homelessness Policy
The past decade has seen a huge growth in numbers of children experiencing homelessness and being forced to live in temporary accommodation such as Bed and Breakfasts, often for long periods of time. Living in temporary accommodation can result in breaches of many key children’s rights.
Our new briefing explains how taking a children’s rights approach to homeless policy could help challenge and tackle some of these issues. It is the fourth in a series of briefings and is part of a three year project funded by the Baring Foundation to build the capacity of the voluntary sector to use children’s rights arguments in their policy and public affairs work.
Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has found that human rights and anti-poverty work are rarely integrated into UK public policy. This is a missed opportunity.
How are children’s human rights relevant to housing?
Adequate housing is a human right recognised under international law (including in Article 25(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and has been enshrined in major international human rights treaties including the CRC. The state of a child’s home – in terms of how fit it is for habitation, its size, stability and location can affect children’s rights in terms of their physical and mental health, education, relationships and safety.
Our briefing gives an overview of the CRC articles that are most applicable to tackle homelessness policy issues and the CRC Committee’s most recent relevant Concluding Observations from the UK’s examination in June 2016, including urging the Government to enforce the ban of use of bed and breakfast accommodation for families for more than 6 weeks.
It also covers the relevant articles under the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which the UK has signed and is the core treaty protecting economic human rights for both adults and children. The briefing outlines seven essential components of adequate housing, the relevant Concluding Observations from 2016 and two General Comments clarifying that the right to housing is a broad right and should be seen as the right to live somewhere in 'security, peace and dignity'.
What are the benefits and barriers to using a children’s rights approach to policy making?
The briefing also summarises the key findings from our recent research with children’s and human rights experts and policy experts from the children’s sector exploring why their organisations do and don’t use children’s rights approaches in their policy and how this is relevant for organisations working in the homelessness policy sector.
How can you take a children’s rights approach to homeless policy?
The briefing goes on to suggest ten recommendations for how homelessness organisations can use children’s rights approaches and arguments in tackling and challenging homelessness policy. In particular it discusses the use of strategic communications to help reframe current narratives and debates amongst the public, the media and decision makers to achieve policy change around human rights and housing.
Download the briefing