Serious concerns raised by the Children’s Commissioner during Scrutiny Hearing

18th January 2022

​In a public hearing yesterday, the Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel (CEHA) heard the concerns of Children's Commissioner, Deborah McMillan, about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the immediate and long-term future for children in Jersey.

The Children's Commissioner reported how the pandemic has heightened issues that already existed and created new problems that need to be addressed, including:

Home life

  • Many homes don't have access to equipment to allow children access to digital learning
  • There is an increase in poverty in Jersey, approximately 30 families per week are accessing food banks. Concerns were also raised regarding housing needs for families in Jersey

Access to health care

  • Children need to be able to access therapeutic care now to build resilience and develop into healthy adults
  • The move to telephone and video appointments for mental health support, as a result of the pandemic, was welcomed by many children
  • Some families in Jersey are struggling to afford doctor's appointments

Juvenile justice and civil liberty for children

  • Domestic abuse rose by 49% during the pandemic
  • The rate of arrests of children and young people increased by 104%
  • The pandemic has delayed important legislation concerning children in care and children's rights

Government structure

  • The Government need to put children's rights at the heart of decision making
  • Mistakes are made when Government decisions are rushed through without proper consideration and input from all relevant stakeholders including children
  • The Government must comply with children's rights and constantly monitor and benchmark their work against best practice
  • The Children's Commissioner is working with children to produce a children's manifesto so candidates who are standing for elections can read what children's priorities are

Deputy Louise Doublet, Vice Chair of the Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel and lead for this review, commented: "We would like to thank the Children's Commissioner and her team for providing comprehensive insights regarding how children experienced the pandemic and for highlighting the key problem areas. It is clear the pandemic has exposed key issues in our society and we need to take this opportunity to address these problems including the standard of care for children and young people. The Government must act now to improve our children's immediate and long-term futures." 

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