The Canadian Bar Association: Child Rights Toolkit

 Photo Credit: StockSnap User Aaron Burden

Photo Credit: StockSnap User Aaron Burden

The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) Child Rights Toolkit has been developed over time by the volunteer work of many legal professionals across the country, as a ‘living document’ intended for ongoing updating.  The toolkit is designed for a national audience, and offers the rider that it is not exhaustive and requires customization according to individual agencies’ case and jurisdiction.  It provides basic information in four inter-related sections to help agencies and workers to better support children, their rights and lived realities.

The authors of the toolkit recommend taking time to read the Fundamentals of section one, then determine what cross-cutting systemic or child themes in sections two and three arise in a particular case, and apply them whilst implementing the four steps in the relevant legal areas in section four.  

  • Fundamentals:  
    • This section provides the fundamental framework of child rights including where they come from, what they are, who is responsible and the status of child rights in Canada.
    • It addresses the fundamentals of what child rights are, where they come from, and how they are applied in law and practice.
    • This section provides the bedrock for any legal argument and should be read in conjunction with the other areas of the toolkit.
    • Includes:
      • Introduction
      • UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
      • Is this your responsibility?
      • Legal status of child rights in Canada
      • Reports on Canada’s progress
      • Implementing child rights in your legal practice
      • Resources
         
  • The System – Cross-Cutting Themes:  
    • This section outlines available systemic child rights supports and tools and in particular independent human rights institutions and child rights impact assessments.
    • Starts from the premise that children face many systemic barriers beyond those of adults, meaning that adult assistance is required to hold government bodies accountable to children.
    • Includes:
      • Independent Human Rights Institutions for Children:  International Law, Canadian Law, Special Considerations, Practice Essentials, and Additional Resources
      • Child Rights Impact Assessments (CRIAS): What is a CRIA and What Does it Do, Three Steps to Complete a CRIA, International Law, Canadian Law, Case Law, Special Considerations, Practice Essentials, Resources
         
  • The Child - Cross-Cutting Themes:  
    • This section highlights subjects that may be applicable to the child or a group of children you work with that transcend all areas of the law, such as Charter rights, best interests of the child, child participation, legal representation and freedom from all forms of violence. 
    • It notes that the first five themes will almost always apply as they reflect the Convention on the Rights of the Child’s guiding principles, and that additional themes will depend on the child or group of children your work affects and the subject matter.
    • The themes listed are not exhaustive, but the toolkit advises that considering the child’s cross-cutting themes will help you implement the child’s rights meaningfully.
    • Includes:
      • The Charter and constitutional protection for children in Canada
      • Life, survival and development
      • Best interests of the child
      • Legal representation of children
      • Child participation
      • Competence, capacity and consent
      • Privacy
      • Indigenous children
      • Girl child
      • Freedom from all forms of violence
         
  • Legal Areas:  
    • This section provides four steps to implement a child rights based approach in practice as well as child rights information and law in specific legal domains such as child protection, family law, youth criminal justice, education, health, cross-border parental child abduction, youth and civil justice, immigration, and refugee law.
    • Each legal area is designed to provide key starting points for context, law and practice from a national perspective.
    • Note:  it is important to first understand the Fundamentals in section one, then consider which Cross-Cutting Themes from sections two and three apply to a particular case, and finally, use this background to determine which legal subject areas in section four apply to the case.
    • Includes:
      • Four Steps to Implement Child Rights
      • Youth Criminal Justice
      • Child Protection
      • Cross Border Parental Child Abduction
      • Education
      • Family Law
      • Health
      • Immigration and Refugee Law
      • Youth and Civil Justice