However, parents and families are barely mentioned in proposals for a new Scottish Children and Young People's Bill that aims to make Scotland "the best place to grow up".
The plans don't recognise parents as usually the best guarantors of their children's rights and welfare.
Sadly, of course, some children can't depend on family as their main support but for the vast majority, families are the mainstay of their rights and wellbeing. Ensuring and supporting the welfare of Scotland's families should feature strongly in legislation to make Scotland a great place to grow up.
Instead, one of the Bill's main proposals is that every child in Scotland should have a "named person", not their parent.
These proposals appear to emanate from "service land", a Monday to Friday, nine to 5pm life. Here, there are no families with all their human realities and troubles. In the real world it is not possible to separate children's welfare from that of their families. Children cannot thrive, for example, if their families are homeless, ill, or worn out with care for children with disabilities.
Often, the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention on Children's Rights are portrayed as pitting children against adults, and adults against one another. In fact, both recognise private and family life, and both impose duties on the state to support parents and to provide services and benefits that guarantee children's welfare. Surely fulfilling those duties should be the aim of any new legislation? But these real rights and duties are not mentioned. Instead the focus is on children's voices being "heard". This usually translates into "child friendly" leaflets, tokenistic consultations and processes and other tick-box measures.
Getting It Right For Every Child, the policy that has provided the context for many of these proposals, is laudable in intent. But it often portrays children as separate from families, and professionals as having equal importance with families.
A key visual used is the "My World" Triangle with the child in the centre of circles of professionals and "My friends and family" a "service" they might or might not need.
When "named persons" rather than families are proposed to fill the gap between the child and the state, this is not really about children's rights. It is instead a confirmation of the rights of services and professionals to determine how the needs of children are to be understood, and to ration resources to meet them.
The usual objection raised to the principle of supporting families is that some parents are very bad, that not everyone has a family. This is a poor excuse for the lack of support.
Yes, there will be children whose families, even with all the right supports, cannot or will not be able to guarantee their rights and welfare. But these are a very small minority.
The Government's proposals leave families out in the cold. It represents a wasted opportunity.
So, what could we have instead?
First, we could have a duty on public bodies to support families. They should have a duty to report on how they involve children, young people and families in decision making and in resource finding and resource allocation.
Family group conferences promote shared decision making and control and encourage and support families in taking the right decisions. They respect families when they are in difficulty, and act to strengthen and not weaken them.
Second, we could have very local community planning, involving children and young people as well as adults, with devolved resources to develop the services they need and want, such as breakfast clubs, respite care, community parents, family aides, befriending and mentoring services. These would be the two strongest measures to keep children healthy happy and safe in their own families and communities.
Let's not base legislation and policy on the assumption that children's wellbeing can only be guaranteed by discounting their families. We can do better for both.
l Maggie Mellon is an independent consultant in child law
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