Mr Palm's speech during the coordination meeting in Vlora with Child Rights Units (CRUs) and Child Protection Units (CPUs) on 3 February 2012
This is a very important meeting. I like to thank the Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities for organizing it. I also congratulate the National Agency for the Protection of the Rights of Children for bringing together such important players for the wellbeing of children. The basis for our meeting today is the law on the protection of the rights of the child, which was adopted in parliament with the consensus across all politics.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is very clear. It says that parents have the first duty to care for their children. But when parents are unable or unwilling to do so, the state – which means all of you - must help and guarantee that all children have the same opportunity.
The law adopted by the Albania Parliament, and the National Agency for children are there to make this happen. I want to assure that also UNICEF will continue to provide support to building the needed capacity and programmes.
Among the leaders of regional councils and local governments here in the room, we also have professionals from the Child Rights Units, and the Child Protection Units. Both institutions are created through the law on children’s rights. You are the frontline workers. But I know you will be supported by the professionals and elected members in the municipalities, communes in councils. Your work is prescribed in the law, it responds to the human rights, and it is common sense.
The best investment of public resources is in the wellbeing of children. As fathers and mothers, we invest our own money into the future of our own children. As father and mothers, we often make sacrifices to send out children to a good school, and ensure they do well.
As the managers of public resources, we must do the same for children in our commune, our municipality or our region. The same principle that applies in our private life, also applies when we decide over public resources.
Child Rights Units are part of the regional councils, and they are meant to be statistical units. They collect data related to the rights of children. They are concerned about the health status of children, access to education, pre-schools. They determine whether children can grow up without violence. They check whether children enjoy these rights even if their parents live in poverty. The staff of the child rights units work very closely with officials from education, health, police, social affairs and others. They advise whether a commune, or municipality or regional needs to do more for children, or which sector is lagging behind. They also identify certain marginalized areas, or vulnerable groups of people, who need our special attention. The Child Rights Units help to improve your regional plans, on the basis of data they collect. I like to ask the regional authorities to give space to the staff of the CRU, and involve them when important plans or budget decisions are being made.
We also have among us the staff of the Child Protection Units. They usually work at the municipal or commune level. They provide a service to disadvantaged children and those at risk. They identify the most serious cases of child abuse or neglect, or the cases where our social protection system does not work. They work directly with the children and their families to resolve immediate problems. They often have to link up with health professionals, teachers, headmasters and police officers. They are social workers and solve immediate problems of individual children and families. They will help disadvantaged children to get back to school, protect them from abuse and exploitation, and intervene in cases of violence. This is a very tough job. The workers of Child Protection Unit require your support – the support of the mayors, chiefs, and directors of departments from health, education, social affairs, state police and others.
We all are good fathers and mothers. We also want to be good officials who care about the most vulnerable children in our community. Together we can do it.