A leading advocate for the rights and wellbeing of children in Scotland and worldwide has been appointed an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Professor Jennifer Davidson is the Executive Director of the University of Strathclyde-based Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures, and the founding Director of CELCIS (the Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection).
She has held leadership positions in child and youth care, social work and professional education in North America and Europe. She is now working extensively with the United Nations (UN), and with other international organisations, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), on responding to children’s distinct needs, and realising their full range of rights and opportunities, to embed these in the delivery of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Inspiring Children's Futures is an international research, policy and practice implementation group with the shared vision of ensuring children and young people facing adversity have what they need to reach their full potential.
Professor Davidson said:
“I’m grateful to receive this recognition of my efforts. I am continuously inspired by the passion and drive of the many children I have had the great privilege of working with, and by the magnitude of the challenge that the world faces to secure the wellbeing of all children.
“This award is a reflection of the many excellent people I have had the great honour to work with, who are deeply committed and highly motivated to making change happen with, and for, children.
“First and foremost, it reflects the children themselves, whose power to bring about change is phenomenal and should never be underestimated. And they are not alone; our collective ambition is shared by my friends and colleagues across the University of Strathclyde, at Inspiring Children’s Futures, at CELCIS, across Scotland and amongst the many partners from much farther afield.
“But the huge injustices that children still face make it crystal clear to me that there remains so much that needs to be achieved for children who are facing adversity. There are yet even greater risks to them from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there is nothing to be complacent about in the collective challenges we will face - notably from inequality, poverty and violence - in the months and years ahead.
“When I came to Strathclyde, I headed a small organisation focused on residential child care in Scotland, before founding CELCIS, which works for children in a much broader context. Subsequently, I have worked at Inspiring Children’s Futures, with its even broader concerns, dealing with children’s needs, rights and opportunities and with a global interest. It was my ambition not only to take what we have learned from Scotland and share it supportively and modestly with the world, but also to ensure that the vast understanding and insights that have been developed around the world about care for children are brought into the Scottish debate and applied effectively in Scotland.”
Professor Davidson studied in Canada at McGill University, Montreal and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. She went on to become a Child and Family Substance Abuse Social Worker with the Vancouver Health Board and Odyssey Alcohol and Drug Services; the Director of Training at University of Houston’s Protective Services Training Institute, and a Lecturer at the same University’s Graduate School of Social Work.
She came to Glasgow – the city of her late father’s birth – when she was appointed Director of the Strathclyde-based Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care - the predecessor of CELCIS - in 2003. She led the establishment of CELCIS in 2011 and in 2017 became Executive Director of Inspiring Children’s Futures, to which she is currently on secondment from CELCIS.
She is the Project Director of the Justice for Children, Justice for All Global Initiative in collaboration with the United Nations-sponsored Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies. She was also Project Director for the Moving Forward: Implementing the UN Guidelines for Alternative Care of Children handbook.