From that time until now, our focus has been on finding ways to provide children with a bright and fulfilling life, the opportunity to learn, and protection from harm.
With United Nations Universal Children’s Day being celebrated on 20th November, as it has been since 1954, it is refreshing to look at the goal of Universal Children’s Day which is “to improve child welfare worldwide, promote and celebrate children’s rights and promote togetherness and awareness amongst all children.”
November 20th was chosen as Universal Children’s Day because it was 20 November 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. On 20 November 1989, the General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
United Nation’s Secretary-General António Guterres, in addressing the 2017 World Children’s Day said, “Dear young people, the future of our planet… the future peace of our world… is in your hands. I am sorry to say that, try as we might, we adults are letting you down.”
He continued to talk about how children are fleeing deadly conflicts, going hungry, often without necessary medicine, separated from their parents. Even in areas that are not suffering deadly conflicts, many children are bullied online or in school. There is discrimination based on their religion, the colour of their skin, or their ethnicity. There are also situations where children are exploited by adults. Guterres urged the global community to stop failing the children of the world.
In 2018, the effort to spread the word about the importance of valuing the children of the world uses the colour blue. Think of 20th November as a day for children, by children, where everyone can be part of building a world where every child is in school, safe from harm, and able to fulfil their potential.
Universal Children’s Day offers each of us an inspirational entry-point to advocate, promote and celebrate children’s rights, translating into dialogues and actions that will build a better world for children.
2018: Children are taking over and turning the world blue. While wearing a blue shirt, or carrying a blue accessory, or making a meal featuring blue food to share with your friends or people at work may seem like simple actions to take, these are all entry points to the discussion of children’s rights and the welfare of children. From discussion, dialogues can grow and develop. From dialogues, actions emerge. Actions can change a child’s world.
Changing the world for a child or young person is at the heart of everything that Capstone Foster Care does. We base our existence on six core values. These values help us build the team who can make the change to one child at a time. Each young person is an individual who by the very fact of being born, is entitled to the best that the world can offer.
As a society, as a community, and an individual, we can all contribute in our own way to making the world a better place. As noted, participating in the 2018 Universal Children’s Day “Children are taking over and turning the world blue” programme is one way to open up a dialogue about the necessity for us all to be involved in improving their lives. Capstone’s entire foundation is built on this, in all our efforts, as emphasised by our core values.
Core Value 1 – Promoting excellent outcomes for children and young people – building brighter futures into adulthood.
Core Value 2 – Putting safeguarding at the heart of the agency and making it everyone’s responsibility.
Core Value 3 – Investing in children leaving care, supporting transitions to independence and access to opportunities.
Core Value 4 – An outstanding quality of service for foster carers and their families (training, support, professionalism).
Core Value 5 – Listening, hearing and acting for those we support (advocacy).
Core Value 6 – Supporting and investing in our staff team to give their best.
Being aware of a child’s right to happiness is at the foundation of building a new and different world where people can thrive in their adulthood. If each person understands and embraces this approach to the new generation of children, the difference can be profound. What is involved in providing a happy childhood can be seen in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. The Declaration describes in great detail how a child’s right to a happy childhood is paramount and how this goal can be achieved in 10 principles. The principles underlying this right are summarised as follows:
Without exception, every child is supposed to be entitled to the rights “without distinction or discrimination on account of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status…”
Laws and regulations should be in place to allow children “to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity.”
All children are entitled to a name and a nationality.
Social security is essential, so the child can grow and develop in health.
Adequate nutrition, housing, recreation and medical services are a child’s right.
A physically, mentally or socially disadvantaged child is entitled to special treatment, education and care required by his or her particular condition.
The child is entitled to love and understanding to allow full and harmonious development of his or her personality. The child should grow up “in an atmosphere of affection and of moral and material security.” Free and compulsory education must be provided, which will promote the child’s general culture and to develop abilities, individual judgement, and a sense of moral and social responsibility, so that he or she can become a useful member of society. The child shall have full opportunity for play and recreation.
“The child shall in all circumstances be among the first to receive protection and relief.”
Protection from neglect, cruelty and exploitation is necessary. This includes trafficking, being employed before an appropriate minimum age or in an occupation injurious to health or education, or interfering with physical, mental or moral development.
The child is entitled to protection from “practices, which may foster racial, religious and any other form of discrimination.” It is the child’s right to be raised “in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among people, peace and universal brotherhood.”
In the cycle of life, children are our future as well as our promise to the future. Parenting, teaching, social support, environment, health care, and society are all part of what comprises our outcomes in the world. When we look at the meaning of a Universal Children’s Day, we can see the global necessity to value and support the rights of children.
Capstone begins with the basic building block of family in its effort to provide positive outcomes for children. With our experience and expertise in fostering, we are able to assess our incoming carers so that we only have the best. We nurture their skills and appreciate them throughout their career with us.
The first entry point is the suitability of the applicants to be foster parents. The process starts with Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), Social Services, and medical checks. We conduct home risk assessments. While the assessments are being done, a recruitment coordinator gets to know the potential foster carer and his or her preferences, skills, and abilities.
Our relationships between members of the team – the foster parents, the social workers, the office staff, and management – is very personal. It is well understood that all members of the team have a voice.
Because we pay attention to our foster carers and continually reinforce our commitment to our core values, there is a consistency from office to office, from one carer to another, from placement to our experts. The strength of our service is based in the certain knowledge that we are a cohesive unit. We are a family that is supportive, generous, and open hearted. We have more than 150 staff supporting almost 650 carers. The amount of staff is an assurance that no carer is ever left waiting for an answer to a request for additional support, financial or otherwise, for any child in their care.
ecause of the secretary general’s comments about the children fleeing deadly conflicts, the idea of caring for unaccompanied and asylum-seeking children and young people comes to mind. In a chaotic atmosphere, they can suffer harassment or persecution because of their religion, race, political beliefs, social group, or nationality.
Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children may be sent to live with a family member or friend in a foreign country, bringing them into an environment where they can share a language, culture and faith. When this is not possible, these children are taken into care by local authorities and placed in foster care.
Capstone Foster Care has been proactive in finding ideal foster families across the UK to meet the needs of these children and young people. This is an example of the range of fostering skills our carers have. Placements for unaccompanied and asylum-seeking children and young people is not a standard type of fostering and yet, we have the capability. These are not children who are leaving a difficult home life. They are leaving a life where their family life was secure but the world around them was not.
Because Capstone’s goal is also to facilitate providing a happy childhood to all the children in our care, we provide training for any special needs that might arise. As with all our foster parents, our carers for children with disabilities need the same basic skills, which begin with patience and commitment.
Special training for this type of foster care may include learning special medical and communication skills. The training is always tailored to the type of disability, which may be a physical disability, a medical condition, or a learning disability. The latter range from autism to hyperactivity to a range of cognitive disorders. As the principles in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child noted, physically, mentally or socially disadvantaged children are entitled to special treatment, education and care required by his or her particular condition. To this end, Capstone provides the support, emotional and financial, to assist with the extra care and time needed for health care and feeding routines.
We also have foster carers who provide respite care, which is one way for other carers to have a scheduled holiday. Often, the respite carer is part of a foster child’s regular routine where an annual holiday for the foster parent or parents has the child go to the respite carer, much like visiting an extended family member such as an aunt and uncle or grandparents.
We live in a shrinking world, where technology brings us all closer together. However, technology also allows us to remain at arm’s length from one another. Texting may have replaced meeting for coffee to discuss the world in general and our lives in particular.
Children in the UK may seem to be protected from the deadly conflicts the secretary general spoke of, but it is incumbent on us to be aware of and involved in the Universal Children’s Day and the need to improve the welfare of all children. It is one thing to say that this is “a day for children, by children, all over the world to help save children’s lives, fight for their rights and help them fulfil their potential.”
It is another thing to be part of this special day. We are going to participate in this fun day, and promote its serious message, because this is our guiding principle every day – ensuring that all children have a happy childhood.