Children’s Law Centre

by | Oct 24, 2018 | 0 comments

Company: Children’s Law Centre


The Children’s Law Centre was established in September 1997. It is founded upon the principles laid down in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Keith Maxwell

The Challenge

Over the past 20 years the Children’s Law Centre (CLC) have changed lives for 1000s of vulnerable children and young people,
e.g. securing support packages for children with special educational needs, multiple disabilities, mental ill health and homeless young people and using youth led research and policy work to achieve positive change in law and policy impacting on the lives of all children and young people in NI. However despite being in existence for many years CLC are concerned that many children and their families who might benefit from our services are prevented from doing so because they are not aware of who we are or how legal interventions can significantly improve their lives. Recent research also shows that many children are not being taught about their rights in schools or where to go to seek advice when their right to access the services/support they need have potentially been denied. In response to these challenges CLC are now exploring innovative ways of both promoting our legal service to ‘hard to reach’ children and
their families and providing child accessible information/advice on children’s rights to support them to self advocate for the vital services they are entitled to.

Our youth advisory panel, youth@clc, have told us that their peers are more likely to engage with information/advice on rights through social media and online portals. As CLC lack ‘in house’ expertise in using social/digital media as a promotional/educational tool or the financial resources to employ a Communications Officer, we would benefit greatly from having a ‘Techie in residence’ for 10-12 weeks.

Being able to work with a mentor would enable us to develop the communication tools we need to reach and help more children and young people to overcome barriers in their lives preventing them from thriving and achieving their full potential in life.

CLC’s advice line – CHALKY deals with 3000+ legal issues annually mostly from adults on behalf of children.

The problem:

  • When CHALKY is contacted many children have reached crisis point.
  • Children have significant unmet legal need
  • Children don’t know they have rights or that CLC can help
  • CHALKY needs to go digital to reach children directly
  • Many vulnerable young people who don’t know their rights and don’t have adult support, are not receiving services
  • Young people need accessible legal information and advice made available to them online
  • When young people receive legal advice their lives change


The Solution

The user research group youth@clc, CLC staff and the Techie refined what the prototype needs to do:

  • easy to find online and use,
  • help young people solve their problems
  • easy for vulnerable young people to find solutions to their problems before they reach crisis.

The digital solution – a Microsoft Chat Bot, ‘Chalky Law Chat’,  provides:

  • Level 1 basic accessible legal information on  NI law relevant to children
  • Level 2 quick, easy pathways to bite size chunks of legal info and advice in pdf format for children needing more specific information about their particular circumstances
  • Connecting young people with complex legal enquiries to CHALKY, other agencies and/or to emergency services


  • Went with web based for proto-type because of Facebook “scandal”/privacy issues
  • Prototype needed to focus on 2 areas of law to test functionality of the Bot

Lessons Learnt:

  • The huge potential of the solution to enable CLC to provide support to the most vulnerable children
  • The Bot will change the way CLC delivers advice directly to children in the future, requiring significant organisational change and restructuring
  • The replicability of the model to other advice agencies
  • Need for buy in across the organisation
  • Need to develop a good business plan to secure future funding/sponsorship

Functionality we’ve developed include:

The checklists guide tenants on what questions they should ask. They are:

  • Before you take on a tenancy – 12 things to check
  • Viewing a property – external
  • Viewing a property – internal
  • Your tenancy agreement – what to check for
  • Questions for your new landlord

The tools will help tenants prepare for the different stages throughout their rental journey. There is:

  • Housing Benefit calculator – Calculate how much housing benefit you could receive
  • Contact your landlord – email/letter template generator
  • Make an inventory – track the items in your house and their condition