Re-opening for children: Short-term Actions
Safe Space for Children to Play: as Important as Space for Business
Getting back to business is now a top priority for government attention. Meanwhile, children’s services continue to advocate for extra funds to pick up the pieces, as collateral damage. What difference would it make if children’s policy was given equal priority instead of being treated as secondary to economic growth, for the next stage of Covid-19 policies?
A top priority would be making it safe for children to go out and play. Some countries are giving a high priority to safe policies for letting children play in parks and public spaces. Children’s right to play, which is often minimized, is essential for children’s health. The International Play Association of Canada has resources on its website to help families and suggestions for governments.
A second priority would be ensuring that children can maintain or have meaningful connection with at least one significant adult outside their primary home, with special attention for children at risk. Research shows that children who are connected with someone who “has their back” and can be trusted to protect their best interests in times of trouble are more able to cope with the kind of challenges presented by Covid-19. With the increased reliance on virtual connections, children’s right to privacy also needs to be a high priority.
Learning from Covid-19: System Change
Covid-19 has exposed the cracks in many of the support systems for child development in Canada. Some of the policy changes introduced as emergency measures should become long-term policy. Before we forget about the gaps that Covid-19 exposed, plans to remedy them should be high on the public agenda.
We have seen federal and provincial ministers in other areas come together in new ways to improve policy coherence in Canada. Federal and provincial ministers responsible for children’s policy should meet soon and develop plans to close serious gaps in the following five essential support systems for children:
1. Early childhood Care and Development
2. Children’s rights to education and within education systems
3. Reform of Child Welfare to Protect Children’s Rights
4. Transition from Adolescence to Treatment as Adults
5. Access to Justice
Children’s Rights: A Bridge from Crisis to a Better Future
The review of children’s rights in Canada, while it seems a lower priority right now, can help to bridge from crisis response to a better future. The CCRC continues to advocate for systemic change to end up in a better place on the other side of the Covid-19 crisis. A summary of our full report highlights what a new approach could provide: Close Gaps through a System Approach: Implement Children’s Rights in Canada; An Executive Summary.
Commentary by Kathy Vandergrift, Co-chair of the Coalition