14 February 2019
Jersey’s first Children’s Rights’ Officer and Ministers are encouraging islanders to celebrate the rights of all children and young people in care, as part of National Care Day tomorrow (Friday 15 February).
Sheree Maher was recently appointed as Jersey’s first Children’s Rights’ Officer, a new role for the island recommended by the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry.
Sheree, who has worked for the Government of Jersey since 2002 in Education, Complex Needs Short Breaks Services and Residential Services for children, said: “National Care Day is an opportunity to celebrate the rights of care-experienced children and young people. Let’s embrace Jersey’s Pledge to Put Children First and really put our children and young people right at the heart of our thinking and actions.”
The new Children’s Rights Officer has been appointed to work with care-experienced children and young people to:
• Help them understand their rights and make sure they’re being treated fairly
• Give them information, help and advice
• Attend meetings with children and speak on their behalf
• Help children and young people obtain legal advice
• Advise them if they wish to make a complaint or help with something they’re unhappy with
• Make sure they are listened to by their carers
• Make sure their opinions are listened to by the people who make decisions
Sheree added: “I want to use my passion and commitment to help to enrich the lives of children. It is an incredible privilege to support and facilitate children to reach for their dreams and aspirations, helping them to create their own path in life.”
Two Ministers, who are involved in the creation of a new group called Jersey Cares, have also added their support to raise awareness for National Care Day.
Last year former Chief Minister Senator Ian Gorst and Children’s Minister Senator Sam Mézec travelled to Edinburgh to meet the Scottish government and voluntary services, to find out how they developed responses to the needs of children and young people in care and how they improved services for children.
Senator Gorst said: “Since we returned from the visit to Edinburgh, a new group called Jersey Cares, has been formed, which is made up of young people with care experience, charities and political and independent representation. A report is soon to be published, by Jersey Cares, which will give an insight into the voice of children and young people in care. National Care Day is a fantastic opportunity to stop and celebrate our looked after children and young people.”
Senator Mézec said: “The Council of Ministers is continuing to keep to our pledge to Put Children First by stepping up our commitment of doing more to fulfil, protect and respect children’s rights.
“Children’s rights have never before been so high profile in Jersey’s policy proposals. We want the rights of children and young people not just recognised, but rooted deep in our society and our public services. Care Day is an opportunity to send a clear message to care experienced young people that we value them, we are proud of them and we will support and celebrate them.”