Speaking at the annual Voice of the Child Conference Family Justice Minister Simon Hughes yesterday outlined the Government’s commitment to children having a greater voice in the family courts.
The Minister said:
“Children and young people must by law have their views heard before decisions are made about their future, and where decisions are made that will impact them. At the moment, it is still too often that their views are not heard.
“Our commitment to giving children the chance to speak to a judge and make clear their views means children will not only be seen in family courts but they will have their own voice heard. This will put them firmly at the heart of the Family Justice System.”
Family Justice Young People’s Board (FJYPB)
The Family Justice Young People’s Board (FJYPB) are a group of approximately 40 young people with first hand experience of the family justice system. The Board work with social workers, the courts and Government to ensure that children and young people’s views are taken on board in decisions made about the family justice system.
The ‘Voice of the Child’
Approximately 300 people attended the event from across the family justice system, including the judiciary, social workers and Government officials.
With 110,000 children involved in new cases in the family courts last year, the FJYPB have been keen to push for children to have the chance to tell professionals, including judges and magistrates, what they think and feel in family court cases affecting them.
A number of young people bravely took to the stage to talk about their own experiences of the family justice system. Members of the Board also chaired workshops on topics including children and young people’s rights within the family justice system and the challenges legal professionals face when working with children and young people in family proceedings.
Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, the top family judge in England and Wales also spoke at the event.