Passion, Action, Strengths and Innovative Change—this is the exact terminology needed when considering purposeful changes in child welfare. It is the contention of this chapter’s authors that child welfare services—and the children and families they serve—would greatly benefit from a change that would entrench child rights as a foundation for services and put children and youth at the centre of the circle of this work. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Saskatchewan Children’s Advocate Office (CAO) “Children and Youth First” Principles are two rights-based documents that are core to this needed paradigm shift in child welfare.
This chapter explores the importance and relevance of child rights, as articulated within the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the definitive international treaty regarding child rights. The connection between the Convention and the Saskatchewan Children’s Advocate is clarified, and the work of the Office is described. Actual children’s case studies that exemplify a lack of child rights and child-centred legislation, policy and practice in child welfare are provided to illustrate the strong need for such principles and the action that should follow from them. A list of user-friendly child rights-based child welfare practice points is also provided, leading into the Saskatchewan Children’s Advocate “Children and Youth First” Principles. A call to action is followed by the conclusion supporting the necessity of moving from children’s “paper rights” to “lived rights.”