High-level conference on deinstitutionalisation “Ending placement of children in institutions”
BUDVA, Montenegro, 16 July 2013 – The high-level conference on deinstitutionalisation “Ending placement of children in institutions” gathered around 100 representatives of relevant institutions to discuss the importance of prevention of children being placed in institutions.
Panel discussion at the high-level conference on deinstitutionalisation “Ending placement of children in institutions” - UNICEF Montenegro 2013
Two UNICEF’s experts, with vast international experience in deinstitutionalisation, Prof. Kevin Browne and Paul Martin, presented key facts and figures in this field, along with best international practices and policies, offering number of recommendations for designing alternative services for children.
“What we are trying to do is develop alternatives. First the aim - to keep the families together in the first place and preventing the abandonment and when that is not possible having family type alternatives - foster care and small group homes," said Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Representative to Montenegro.
Research shows that placing children in institutions particularly harms children under the age of 3. They suffer delay in early brain development, and their physical development is slower than of children who live within a family environment. That has long-term effects for their future life.
“They don't develop normally, they become socially withdrawn, they have no concept of boundaries, privacy and modesty, which makes them very vulnerable to be the bullies later in life so this children are very vulnerable to be exploited by others," said Kevin Browne, Head of Institute and Chair of Forensic Psychology and Child Health at the University of Nottingham.
The right of children to live in a family environment is one of basic human rights, thus their deinstitutionalisation is the imperative from the angle of human rights protection.
High-level conference on deinstitutionalisation “Ending placement of children in institutions” - UNICEF Montenegro 2013
"Each child matters and every child is a subject, not an object, and should thus enjoy all guaranteed rights. Regardless of the infrastructure of institution, it should be noted that the child has important emotion that need to be met to insure every child grows into a healthy adult,” emphasized Marija Rauš, Human Rights Advisor in the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia.
Montenegro has demonstrated a clear commitment to end placement of children in institutions. The Government made concrete steps in this regard, including adoption of the new Law on Social and Child Protection and Strategy on Foster Care, and also a number of trainings of representatives of the education health, education and social care.
“The Protocol for the prevention of the institutionalisation of children is currently being drafted, with focus on children under the age of three. What is also very important from the institutional aspect is the on-going transformation of the Children’s Home in Bijela,” stated Predrag Bošković, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare of Montenegro.
This Conference is a follow up action within the UNICEF and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights supported campaign “Ending placement of children under three years in institutions” launched in the European Parliament in June 2011.