There are questions about Child Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA) that typically arise when potential users or advocates first consider it. A common concern is how to avoid negative experiences arising from other impact assessment processes (“impact assessment fatigue”). A review of international experience suggests approaches that can support effective implementation of CRIA:

How can we use CRIA with limited capacity and resources?

  • Train one or more existing policy developers/decision-makers to lead CRIA in their departments; organizations like UNICEF and independent Children’s Commissioners and advocates may offer training and implementation support
  • Adapt an existing CRIA tool (there are a number of models available from various contexts) to fit your policy/decision-making process
  • Integrate CRIA into an existing social impact assessment methodology
  • Engage child-serving and youth-led organizations to invite children’s perspectives
  • Be transparent and realistic about what types of decisions CRIA will be applied to (see: Scoping) and use Screening to decide if a full CRIA is warranted
  • Use the best available information and be transparent about uncertainties and gaps

Research on regulatory impact assessment makes a strong case that the cost of a bad decision is usually greater than the cost of a few trained staff to carry out impact assessment.

How can we overcome reluctance to complicate the policymaking process?

  • Position CRIA as the discharge of obligations under international human rights law to give due priority to children and to ensure their rights and best interests are supported in all actions
  • Screen proposals to determine when a full CRIA is necessary
  • Use a CRIA tool that provides for meaningful analysis without undue complexity
  • Consider how previous decisions have yielded unintended negative consequences or court challenges, which might have been avoided by using CRIA
  • Try CRIA with a demonstration project
  • Discuss using CRIA with colleagues from other agencies to identify challenges, conditions for success and benefits

As users become familiar with the process and accumulate knowledge, the process should become easier and part of routine thinking.

How can we sustain commitment and quality as initial enthusiasm wanes or champions move on to other roles?

  • Create a mandate for CRIA in legislation, as a strategic policy directive, or within a children’s strategy
  • Ensure that a senior official monitors and is accountable for the use of CRIA in each department or across departments, complemented by an accountable focal point in elected bodies such as a child-focused committee in parliament/legislature
  • Embed roles to lead, use and support CRIA in job descriptions and work plans
  • Undertake periodic internal and external reviews of CRIA (e.g., by independent Children’s Commissioners or Advocates, research institutions, a parliamentary committee, and/or periodic reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child) to assess CRIA influence on decision-making and identify opportunities to improve the process
  • Provide periodic training for users and establish a simple online training for new staff users (as done in Wales)

How can we address initial lack of knowledge or motivation about the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its obligations, about children’s needs and rights and about CRIA and its effective implementation?

  • Promote training opportunities for public officials, elected representatives, service-providers and children’s advocates in the applications of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the obligations of duty-bearers
  • Start by using CRIA in one department (e.g., the most child-focused department) or in a demonstration project
  • Motivation may be promoted by champions such as leaders in departments where children’s issues are more central or independent
  • Commissioners and Advocates for children
  • Establish a cross-departmental unit of CRIA officials who act as focal points to exchange good practice and coordinate and share their CRIA; this also mitigates the difficulty of situating CRIA in one domain, since children’s issues and impacts occur across sectors
  • Use this CRIA Community of Practice to locate useful resources and training opportunities
  • Seek opportunities to learn from international experience through buddying with Community of Practice (virtual) colleagues
  • Build up knowledge, judgment and confidence through the continuing practice of CRIA; this accumulated knowledge and experience will improve analysis of children’s rights over time
  • Equip elected representatives to use CRIA in debates and in committee studies and legislative assessments

Won’t CRIA suffer from political expediency?

  • Apply CRIA at the earliest stages of the decision-making process
  • Make public the CRIA approach being used – and publish CRIA analyses or summaries, depending on the openness of the political process
  • Children’s advocates and elected representatives can get into the custom of asking for and debating CRIA analyses for particular proposals
  • Include stakeholder consultation whenever feasible (including children’s views)
  • Periodically evaluate the impact of CRIA on the quality of decisions
  • Remember what CRIA is for – not an administrative task or a justification of a proposal, but an opportunity to think about how best to support a vulnerable group of people and make the best possible decisions

The process of CRIA raises awareness, whether or not the assessment influences the final decision on a proposal. As practitioners use CRIA they increase their knowledge about children and children’s rights, making it more likely that these will be considered in the policy or program development process.

Other Tips for Success

Other tips for success include:

  • Implement CRIA at the federal/national, provincial/state and local levels of government and in public authorities such as school boards and child welfare agencies
  • Apply CRIA to all policy and decision-making domains – it can be particularly useful for proposals that are not readily identified as children’s issues but have impacts on children
  • CRIA may be more readily established and effective if coordination exists e.g., a cross-departmental coordinating body for child policy can facilitate consultation and collaboration to address the range of interdependent children’s rights
  • Establish in relevant legislation corresponding duties in government and in independent advocates (e.g., Children’s Commissioners) to engage in the CRIA process
  • Set up a communication mechanism for policy developers to share completed CRIA assessments within and across departments to support learning
  • Cultivate good external relationships with the child-focused service and advocacy sector
  • Develop/adapt a practical, user-friendly tool/template to work through the assessment, including a screening step
  • Use a CRIA tool that requires consideration of more than one option and includes a do-nothing option
  • Customize CRIA to ensure that vulnerable groups in your jurisdiction are explicitly considered; for example, include specific questions in the CRIA tool to consider the implications for indigenous children with reference to General Comment 11 of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; children with disabilities with reference to General Comment 9 of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities

Share your tips for success in the Community Forum.