Our Child Rights Centre was established to provide direct representation of the rights of children in Hungary.The Child Rights Centre aims to reduce the number of children’s rights violations and to provide high-quality counselling on children’s rights in cases where children under 18 are involved.
Why is this necessary?
Children’s rights can be and are often violated in numerous ways. At present, the parents of every third child in Hungary get a divorce and in a quarter of cases no settlement is reached; keeping in contact, the residence of children and their upbringing are continuous sources of ongoing conflicts. Every tenth child becomes a victim of abuse and more than 24,000 children live without families in state care. They are only represented by 23 children’s rights representatives nationwide.
A significant proportion of children’s rights violations remain hidden since children are unaware of their rights or simply do not know how to enforce them. In most cases, they need the help of and representation by adults, who, unfortunately, rarely prioritize the well-being, development and protection of the children beyond the level of declarations.
Our legal aid service was launched in 2017 to represent the interests of children in proceedings. Since then, we have provided free counselling in more than 1,000 cases to families, children and young adults who turned to us – most often related to divorce, keeping in contact, child abuse and educational conflicts.
The focus was always on the best interest of the child concerned and never of the person requesting help, regardless of the party asking for advice — whether it was the father, the mother or a head of institution. This children’s rights-based approach and holistic view, that takes into account the child’s needs and not only the legalities, fills a gap in today’s advisory scene as well as in public care.
How does the Centre work?
The staff of the Centre follows a children’s rights approach so regardless of who approaches our Foundation with a case where a child’s rights are violated, we always consider the child concerned to be the client. In the fall of 2019 we decided to redesign our personal counselling, which had already been operating at full capacity until then, due to the incredibly high number of inquiries.
The aim of the structural transformation was to provide comprehensive, nationwide assistance to children. Most of the personal counselling is replaced with a chatbot which not only offers available knowledge in case of any problems, but also provides immediate support and an up-to-date knowledge base for professionals and lawyers working in child protection.
A key aspect of this transformation was also related to the best interest of children; there are several cases that cannot wait and require information immediately. In such cases, with the help of the online services, there is no need for waiting lists as the necessary information is immediately available in Hungarian. In certain children’s rights cases personal meetings and consulting is possible, but this kind of assistance is dependent on the free capacity of the Centre.
The staff of the Child Rights Centre
In the Pro Bono Child Rights Centre we work with a holistic view and check the problems we receive from all angles. The members of the professional team working on the certain cases are lawyers, mediators, psychologists and child protection specialists. Together we develop a strategy for cases and provide it as a proposal to the person who turns to the Child Rights Centre. The lawyers of DLA Piper Posztl, Nemescsói, Györfi-Tóth and Partners Law Office, Hegymegi-Barakonyi and Partner Baker & McKenzie Attorneys-at-Law, Réczicza Dentons Europe LLP Law Office and the Partos & Noblet Law Office help the operation of the Child Rights Center with their pro bono work.
Head of program: dr. Nóra Bárdossy – Sánta