Among the authority and responsibilities granted to the Advocate for Children and Youth by The Advocate for Children and Youth Act is the legislated mandate to become involved in public education respecting the interests and well-being of children.
At the forefront of the Advocate's public education program are renewed efforts to raise awareness of the office’s advocacy services for children and youth, and to engage youth in the activities of the office.
Additionally, we have placed priority on providing education to professionals employed by Saskatchewan's child-serving ministries and agencies on the human rights of children and youth receiving government services under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is important for such education to occur because:
- Canada and its provinces are legally obligated to progressively implement the Convention, and that includes the obligation of ensuring that those who work with and for children are aware of it.
- Knowledge of the Convention provides a very effective tool and framework for problem solving and program evaluation, and helps debunk the myths that rights are ‘freedoms’ or ‘privileges’ rather than fundamental human ‘entitlements.’
- Rights-based approaches to protecting children are different from — and generally more effective than — traditional needs-based or paternalistic approaches.
- When adults model and respect children’s rights, children become more respectful of each other and of adults; and they become empowered agents in the protection of their own rights, as well as those of their peers.
- An understanding of children’s rights, as set out in the Convention, is even more important in Saskatchewan, where there are no codified rights and entitlements set out in provincial child welfare legislation.