September 2005: Every Child Has a Right to Live in a Family – the State and the Society Have a Duty to Realize this Right
On 19-20 September 2005, in the Ak-Keme Hotel, UNICEF and the Government of Kyrgyzstan assemble a Conference “Improvement of Standards of Child Care Services in Children’s Institutions in Kyrgyzstan: Present Situation and Future Plans”. To be opened by the Vice-prime-minister, the Conference convenes heads and experts of all leading ministries in the field of child care and protection, children’s institutions, non-governmental organisations and international specialists.
The Conference underlines that Kyrgyzstan recognizes a right of every child to live in family or family like environment. It acknowledges that big residential care institutions that have been for a long time the only resort for children with disabilities and children from families who cannot provide necessary care, are very harmful for a child. They carry much more burden for the state budget than a possible alternative support to biological or foster families needed to provide quality care for a child.
This issue has been raised in the whole world for already a long time and it is not new in Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan’s psychologists and staff in residential care institutions have mounted up extensive evidence on negative impact of institutionalization on the development of the child and his/her meaningful participation in the life of the society.
Still, the number of state run institutions in the republic and children living there has doubled since 1991. More then 82% of children in the residential care institutions have one surviving parent or/and an extended family.
On the first day of the Conference, heads of three republican residential care institutions will share their experience and present new methods of caring for children. Implementers of UNICEF supported pilot projects will share results on successful returning children from institutions to families and show effectiveness of the opportune work with families that help to prevent placement of children into institutions. Over 2003-2004, the project group managed to help 82 children to enjoy their right to grow up in a family environment and no children from the pilot districts where UNICEF supported project on prevention works, were sent to institutions.
On the second day of the Conference, the participants will have to evaluate current standards in Kyrgyzstan, consider positive experience of local specialists and pilot projects, and try on international standards to improve the child care and protection services in the republic. Recommendation and a plan of action developed at the Conference are expected to help decision makers to improve current policies and provide caregivers with effective tools to ensure that every child in Kyrgyzstan can enjoy the right to live and develop his/her full life potential in the family or family like environment.