I have a right to live with a family who cares for me.
Article 9 of the UNCRC says that a child or young person shouldn’t be separated from their parents unless:
- staying with their parents could be harmful to them; or
- it’s impossible for them to stay with their parents.
A child or young person may be separated from a parent if:
- that parent isn't able to take care of them
- that parent is acting in a way that's not in that child or young person's best interests
- that parent is unable to keep that child safe and happy
If you are a child or young person who's been separated from a parent, you may find Article 5 of the UNCRC helpful.
You shouldn’t be separated from your parents because of discrimination. For example, a parent’s ethnicity shouldn’t have anything to do with whether you’re separated from them or not.
Knowing both parents
Children and young people have the right to keep in contact with their parents. If the State is responsible for them being separated from a parent – as would be the case if that parent were in prison or deported – then it should be able to tell them where that parent is.
Children and young people who have lost contact with your parents should be able to be reunited with their families if you wish.
Article 7 talks about the right to know both parents.
Article 8 talks about the right to family relationships.
Article 10 says children and young people have the right to know their parents even if they live in another country.
Article 11 says children and young people shouldn't be kidnapped.
Article 16 says that the State shouldn't interfere with a child or young person's relationship with their parents without good reason.
Article 18 says that parents share joint responsibility for bringing a child up.
Article 20 talks about what should happen when living with a parent isn't in a child or young person's best interests.
Article 21 talks about the rights of children and young people during the adoption process.
If children or young people are refugees, they don't lose the right to stay with their parents.
Children and young people shouldn't be sold or trafficked.
Article 37 talks about what happens if a child or young person commits a crime, and can't stay with their parents because of this.
This article is a simplified version of Article 9 of the UNCRC. The full text of the Article can be found below:
1. States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents, or one where the parents are living separately and a decision must be made as to the child's place of residence.
2. In any proceedings pursuant to paragraph 1 of the present article, all interested parties shall be given an opportunity to participate in the proceedings and make their views known.
3. States Parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child's best interests.
4. Where such separation results from any action initiated by a State Party, such as the detention, imprisonment, exile, deportation or death (including death arising from any cause while the person is in the custody of the State) of one or both parents or of the child, that State Party shall, upon request, provide the parents, the child or, if appropriate, another member of the family with the essential information concerning the whereabouts of the absent member(s) of the family unless the provision of the information would be detrimental to the well-being of the child. States Parties shall further ensure that the submission of such a request shall of itself entail no adverse consequences for the person(s) concerned.
The Commissioner's office has an advice line that answers questions about children’s rights and child welfare.
Read our publications about the rights of children of prisoners.