A person smiles while pointing to themselves in a circle of black dots. Beside them is a family with a child in a house, which has a big red line drawn through it.

UNCRC Article 20

I have the right to be looked after if I can’t live with my own family

If children cannot be looked after by their own family, they must be looked after properly, by people who respect their religion, culture and language.

Governments should make sure that alternative care is available for children.

Article 20 of the UNCRC says that children and young people have the right to special protection and help if they can’t live with their family. In many cases, this will involve going into care.

Human rights when you’re in care

Children and young people have the right to go into care, and to have their rights respected when they are there. There should be independent checks to make sure that their rights are respected, especially if they are disabled or a refugee.

The opinions of children and young people in care should be listened to and taken seriously. They must have the freedom to do things they want to do and be able to grow up safely and happily.


The Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland is one of many organisations and individuals who are corporate parents.

A corporate parent is the name given to an organisation or person who has special responsibilities to care experienced children and young people. This may include:

  • those in residential care,
  • those in foster care,
  • those in kinship care, who live with a family member other than a parent, and
  • those who are looked after at home.

In simple terms, a corporate parent is intended to carry out many of the roles a loving parent should. While they may not be able to provide everything a parent can, but they should still be able to provide the children and young people they’re responsible for with the best possible support and care.

Corporate parent responsibilities are intended to encourage people and organisations to do as much as they can towards improving the lives of care experienced and looked after children, so that they:

  • feel in control of their lives, and
  • are able to overcome the barriers they face

Part 9 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 puts the concept of corporate parenting into Scots law. It makes it so:

  • there are certain things corporate parents have to do by law for the children and young people they’re responsible for,
  • corporate parents have to report to Scottish Ministers on how they’re carrying out their responsibilities.

How a corporate parent’s performance is reviewed

Corporate parents must report to Scottish Ministers on how they’re carrying out their responsibilities, and must follow the guidance that Ministers issue on how to carry out their duties. Ministers have to report every 3 years on how well corporate parenting is working in Scotland.


WhoCares? Scotland helps ensure looked after and care experienced children and young people’s voices are heard, offering advocacy support across most local authority areas.


You can find information about whether a care service is registered and how to complain on the Care Inspectorate website.


Citizen’s Advice Bureau Scotland provides comprehensive information on their website and advice in their offices or on the free confidential Kinship Care helpline (tel. 0808 800 0006).

Children1st also operate a kinship care service and helpline (tel. 08000 28 22 33).

Days of General Discussion

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child facilitates Days of General Discussion (DGD) where experts from around the world can discuss a child rights issue in detail. The reports of their discussions are a helpful tool to understand how the UNCRC should be interpreted.

In 2021 the Day of General Discussion was on children’s rights and alternative care. Held online due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Committee and delegates reviewed progress for children’s rights in alternative care, identified examples of good practice and examined the current challenges. The final recommendations were informed by views and experiences from care experienced children and young people. This outcome report summarises the discussions and recommendations from the day.

2005’s Day of General Discussion on children without parental care is relevant to Article 20.

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