The Impact of Quality4Children on Children’s Rights

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was agreed in 1989 and has provided the basis for all other international child care work since then. This article looks at Q4C, an important project to develop internationally accepted Standards for child care, developed on the basis of the UN Convention with a view to affecting practice.

The UN Convention Says…

Article 9.2 of says, “… all interested parties shall be given an opportunity to participate in the proceedings and make their views known.”Article 12.1 says, “States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those view freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.”

Article 12.2 says: “For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard …”

Starting the Project

FICE (Fédération Internationale des Communautés Educatives) bases its work on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Participation of children in any decision that affects their life has to be a basic principle in alternative care.

So there were reasons enough for FICE to be happy being one of the three international organisations (together with SOS and IFCO) in setting up a huge project to develop Quality4Children Standards for out-of-home child care in Europe.

Children Central to Setting the Standards

Q4C Standards were not only made for children in out-of-home care, they were made in cooperation with children, their parents, caregivers, professionals. FICE, SOS and IFCO always tried to make sure that they used a participatory approach in the process of managing the project. Young adults who had experienced out-of-home care were part of the steering group from the very beginning.

Children, their parents, care givers and professionals told their stories about good practice in this field. The Standards were formulated out of these stories, and twice there was an opportunity for the storytellers to give feedback on the wording of the Standards. It was important that every storyteller could find his/her story in the Standards.

Identifying the Links Between UNCRC and Q4C

While the UN Convention is quite a detailed document, the aim of the Q4C working group was to keep the Standards succinct, in order to be able to apply them. In all, eighteen Standards were drawn up, based on stories provided by the children from many countries.

Experts have identified the ways in which the Q4C Standards and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child relate to each other. While the UNCRC lays out the children’s rights, the Q4C standards identify the criteria against which the services should be judged.

As one of the many connections you can find between Q4C and the UNCRC, let me give you just a typical example.
Q4C Standard 3: A professional decision-making process ensures the best possible care for the child.

References In the UNCRC

To the child:




3/1 “In all actions concerning children … the best interest of the child shall be a primary consideration.”

3/2 “State Parties undertake to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being …”

6/2 “State Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.”

19 “State Parties shall take appropriate … measures to protect the child from …violence, injury or abuse or negligent treatment … while in the care of … legal guardian(s) …”

20/1 “A child temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment … shall be entitled to special protection and assistance provided by the State.”

23/1 “State Parties recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community.”

23/2 “…recognize the right of disabled children to special care …”

23/3 ” … assistance in accordance with paragraph 2 … shall be provided free of charge …”

39 State Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim … Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.”

To the parents:

3/2 “…taking into account the rights and duties of his or her parents …”

5 “State Parties shall respect the responsibilities and duties of parents … to provide appropriate guidance … ”

6/2 See above.

18/1 ” … that both parents have common responsibilities, …have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child. The best interests of the child will be their basic concern.”

20/3 “Such care could include, inter alia, foster placement, kafalah of Islamic law, adoption or if necessary placement in suitable institutions for the care of children …”

23/1 See above.

23/2 See above.

23/3 See above.

39 See above.

To the child protection services or care organisations:

3/1 See above.

6/2 See above.

23/1 See above.

23/2 See above.

23/3 See above.

39 See above.

To the responsible person or caregiver:

2 See above.

3/1 See above.

5 See above.

6/2 See above.

20/3 See above.

23/1 See above.

23/2 See above.

23/3 See above.

39 See above.

It will be seen that the single Q4C Standard is reflected in a large number of the UNCRC clauses. You can get access to the full version of the reference frame of the eighteen Q4C Standards on the Q4C website ( in – at the moment – twenty one languages. Some more languages will be available quite soon (for example Hebrew).

EU Reactions To the Q4C Standards

When the Standards were presented in Brussels at the EU Commission, Ms Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy said, “… I particularly focus on an effective protection on the rights of the children, taking into account their individual needs and evolving capabilities, with the Union acting as a beacon to the rest of the world. The promotion, protection and fulfilment of children’s rights have become an important political priority in the internal and external policies of the EU.”

And she continued, “In this context the Quality4Children Standards complement our efforts in policy-making, especially in cases where children cannot live with their parents. On the basis of real life stories they outline common Standards aimed at ensuring and improving children’s and young adults’ development opportunities in out-of-home childcare over Europe. I am convinced that these Standards form a valuable contribution and an important further step towards the harmonisation of our childcare system in Europe.”

Meanwhile, Quality4Children Standards have become known not only all over Europe, but also in all other continents of the world. The next challenge – which we are at present working on – is to implement these Standards. Working according to the Q4C Standards in the field of out-of-home care also means to work according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. And having in mind the Convention on the Rights of the Child when working and dealing with children brings you to the Q4C Standards as the highest possible level of participation.

Advocacy for Q4C and implementation of the Q4C Standards are the best possible support to make States Parties fulfil what they have promised to do on the Rights of the Child by signing the 49 Articles of the UN-Convention. IFCO, SOS and FICE are making every possible effort to push this process forward.

Monika Niederle has been President of FICE-International since 2006, and she has played a major part in developing the Q4C Standards, both when she was President of FICE-Austria and in her current role.

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