Our Work

Overview of Child Law Clinic Research Projects

Advancing Children’s Rights


Grant-making by Atlantic Philanthropies has had a clear impact on the children’s sector over the past decade and has greatly enhanced grantees’ capacity to advance children’s rights. In this context, Atlantic commissioned the Child Law Clinic, UCC and the Centre for Children’s Rights, QUB to undertake a two year project designed to advance children’s rights in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The aims of this project are twofold: to document the nature of Atlantic’s legacy by undertaking an analytical and reflective study of children’s rights in Ireland over a two year period from January 2013 to December 2014; and to further enhance and support the capacity of the children’s sector in Ireland to advocate for children’s rights.


Children’s Rights Behind Bars


Children’s Rights Behind Bars is a collaboration between 16 European and International organisations that work for children’s rights, led by Defence for Children International (DCI). The goal of the project is to increase the respect of human rights of children deprived of liberty and improve the implementation of international juvenile justice standards to protect the rights and needs of incarcerated children. The project is financed by the European Commission. The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) was chosen as the Irish partner for the project; the National Report on the implementation of juvenile detention facilities’ monitoring and complaint mechanisms was completed for IPRT by Prof Ursula Kilkelly, Director of the Child Law Clinic and Louise Forde, who is currently undertaking doctoral research with Prof Kilkelly.


EC Child-Friendly Justice


As part of its role in promoting child-friendly justice across Europe, the European Commission has carried out a study to collect data on children’s involvement in criminal, civil and administrative judicial proceedings in all 28 EU Member States for the years 2008-2011. Contextual narrative overviews have also been produced by the Commission, describing the legal and policy situation in Member States as of 1 June 2012 with regard to children’s involvement in such proceedings. The Child Law Clinic is drafting a rights-based policy brief that distils the main findings of this study into key conclusions, aimed at national policy-makers. Using the international and European children’s rights standards as a framework, the brief examines the extent to which children are guaranteed effective access to, and treatment in, criminal, civil and administrative judicial proceedings across the EU Member States.


Unlocking Children’s Rights: Strengthening the capacity of professionals in the EU to fulfil the rights of vulnerable children


This project, led by the Coram Children’s Legal Centre in the UK, involves organisations from ten European countries, including the Child Law Clinic at UCC. Over two years, the organisations will research and develop training on age-appropriate, child-friendly communication skills and child rights informed practices for professionals and practitioners working with children in justice proceedings, residential care and detention. The project involves a two-stage pilot and review of the training with over 920 professionals from the ten countries. The training modules will be developed by an inter-disciplinary team of key experts, including groups of children and young people in the ten countries.


Child-friendly Public Services: A Consultation


The Ombudsman for Children’s Office commissioned the Child Law Clinic to carry out this study, following a competitive tendering process. The study was designed to advance the promotion and protection of children’s rights in the administrative actions and decision-making processes of public bodies and to improve children’s access to public services. The objective of the research carried out by the Clinic is to inform the development of rights-based and child-friendly administration through increasing understanding of (i) the constituent elements of rights-based, child-friendly administration and (ii) children and their families’ access to and experience of public services. It aims to identify rights-based, child-friendly practices, to investigate the barriers to the implementation of such practices and to inform the development of recommendations for reform.


Children’s Contact with the Outdoors and Natural Heritage: Current trends, benefits, barriers and research requirements


As part of its role to protect and promote Ireland’s national heritage, the Heritage Council commissioned a research team from the Child Law Clinic and the Department of Occupational Science, UCC to conduct a review of contact with the outdoors and natural heritage among children aged 5-12.The principal objective of the research project was to review existing research and relevant literature relating to children’s relationship with the outdoors and natural heritage from a children’s rights perspective. This included examining and analysing current trends and identifying gaps in the research on this subject, particularly in the Irish context.Through this process, the project aimed to: present an understanding of the barriers to ensuring children’s enjoyment of their rights to contact with the outdoors and natural heritage; identify the impacts and precise benefits to children of contact with the outdoors and natural heritage holistically, including health, education, social and environmental perspectives; and develop precise recommendations for further research and for specific measures for supporting children’s engagement with the outdoors and natural heritage.


Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA)


The Child Law Clinic is currently undertaking a number of research projects on children and young people’s participation for the DCYA.


The DCYA published the first National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-Making in June 2015. In order to support implementation of this strategy, the DCYA will develop a Children and Young People’s Participation Hub. The Hub will act as a centre for the provision of information, guidance and practical support to Government Departments and agencies in delivering the commitments outlined in the Strategy.


DCYA- Participation Hub


The DCYA has commissioned the Child Law Clinic to inform the establishment of the Hub by conducting a consultative needs assessment with key stakeholders as well as a review of key literature in the area of children and young people’s participation. The research team has held thirteen focus group meetings with children and young people from different backgrounds and age-groups about their needs, expectations and requirements from the Hub. Based on the findings from the consultative process and review, the research team will identify key skills, expertise and resources required for the establishment, management and continued development of the Hub.


DCYA- Online Database


An element of the Child Law Clinic’s work on the Participation Hub will include the development of an online database on children and young people’s participation in decision-making. The database will include published and grey literature, on, amongst other things: national and international literature on the theory and practice of children and young people’s participation in decision-making; models of best practice in children and young people’s participation; and national and international policy, strategy and legal instruments on children’s participation.


DCYA- Third Level Audit


Also to inform the development of the Participation Hub, a nationwide audit of children’s rights and participation training and third level education is being undertaken by the Child Law Clinic. The dual objectives of the audit are to (i) identify and map third level courses on children’s rights and (ii) investigate the content of these courses from a children’s rights perspective.


DCYA - Assessment tool


The Council of Europe, Children’s Rights Division, has developed a self-assessment tool to help States monitor implementation of the Recommendation on the Participation of Children and Young People, in order to further its implementation at national level. Ireland is one of three countries selected to test and evaluate the Child Participation Assessment Tool and the Child Law Clinic was chosen to act as a national consultant to assist the DCYA with a number of tasks relating to the testing and evaluation.


Ireland 2016

In 2014, the Government launched Ireland 2016, an initiative which aims to honour and remember those involved in the 1916 Rising, and to reflect on how the legacy of 1916 can contribute to our understanding of ourselves in Ireland now and into the future. As part of the activities for Ireland 2016, the DCYA in partnership with Ireland 2016 and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DAHG) developed an initiative to involve children and young people in contributing their views on the future of Ireland, in accordance with Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, children’s right to have their voices heard. A series of consultations with children and young people will provide them with an opportunity to give their views on how they would like to commemorate the children who died in 1916 and what they would like the legacy of those children to be as Ireland moves forward into the next century.

The Child Law Clinic research team was successful in bidding for the tender for the project in May 2015. The work entails monitoring and evaluating the initiative using participatory methodologies, and compiling a report of the findings. The primary planned output of the project is a report of the consultation process which will include the background to the 1916 celebrations, a description of the planning and development of the consultations and the methodologies used, as well as the findings of the consultations with children and young people about their views on the legacy of 1916 and how to honour the children who died during the Easter Rising, together with their ideas for Ireland’s future. In collaboration with the young researchers, a child and youth friendly version of the report will also be developed to be made available in a range of formats that are accessible to a wide audience. The project runs for one year.



Clinic submission on revised General Scheme of CFR Bill 2014


In light of Minister Fitzgerald’s publication of the revised General Scheme of the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2014, the UCC Child Law Clinic has produced a further submission on its content. The revised General Scheme of the Bill can be accessed at the following link http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PB14000256

The Clinic submission focuses, in particular, on three aspects of the revised Bill: 1) Posthumous reproduction 2) Measures to hear the voice of the child in family law proceedings, and 3) Changes in the 2014 document to limit the Bill’s guardianship provisions to couples who conceive with the assistance of fertility clinics.

Submission on Scheme of the CFR Bill




ECtHR Child Law Reporting Project

The aims of the Child Law Clinic include improving the quality of children’s representation; promoting evidence-based reform in all areas of child law and supporting lawyers litigating children’s issues. In order to further these aims, the Clinic is piloting a monthly review of decisions of the European Court of Human Rights that are particularly related to children. This project was initiated and is overseen by PhD researcher and member of the Child Law Clinic Louise Forde with support from the Clinic. It is hoped that, in time, this project will become a resource for practitioners and researchers seeking to learn more about children's rights. In order to pilot the project, 2014 cases will be posted on this siteon a monthly basis: the Clinic would welcome any feedback relating to usability of the monthly review and would like to hear suggestions as to how it might be improved pending the launch on a dedicated platform later this year. To view the pilot case reports, click here.

  • Unlocking Children’s Rights: training for professionals

    19 Oct 2016
    Unlocking Children’s Rights: training for professionals

    Unlocking Children's Rights: Strengthening the capacity of professionals in the EU to fulfil the rights of vulnerable children

    The Child Law Clinic, School of Law, UCC is a partner on the project, Unlocking Children's Rights: Strengthening the capacity of professionals in the EU to fulfil the rights of vulnerable children. The project is led by the Coram Children’s Legal Centre in the UK, with organisations from ten other European countries, and is co-funded through the financial support of the Fundamental Rights & Citizenship Programme of the European Union. 

    Read more
  • Training Materials for Unlocking Children's Rights

    19 Oct 2016
    Training Materials for Unlocking Children's Rights

    Guide to Using the Training Materials for "Unlocking Children’s Rights: Strengthening the capacity of professionals in the EU to fulfil the rights of vulnerable children" 

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Child Law Clinic

Faculty of Law, Áras na Laoi, Gaol Cross, UCC, Cork