Statement on allegations in News Reports of Inappropriate Child Care at Komanski Most
PODGORICA, March 26th, 2010 - UNICEF expressed concern about allegations in the media of the mistreatment of children in the Komanski Most institution.UNICEF noted that while much had been achieved this decade the work remained unfinished. The allegations, as well as the publication of the CPT report, were a wakeup call to end institutionalisation of children in Montenegro. UNICEF stands ready with other international partners to support speeding up Montenegro’s efforts to bring about reform in this area.
Concerning the situation in Komanski Most, UNICEF and the Government are preparing and implementing plans for the remaining ten children in the institution to be cared for within family or community settings.
Individual assessments of all the children in Bijela Children’s Home and Komanski Most institutions have been conducted and individual care and treatment plans have been developed to improve their social skills and prepare them for reintegration into the family or (in the case of the children from Komanski Most) for their movement into Small Group Homes. The two Small Group homes will be built with the support of the US Embassy in Montenegro.
“The US, through the US Militaries European Command, will support the children of Komanski Most by providing funds for constructing Small Group Homes in Danilovgrad. We are delighted to contribute to the establishment of a new family-type model that will support the process of reform of the child protection system in Montenegro” says Ambassador Roderick Moore.
UNICEF Representative in Montenegro, Noala Skinner said it was important to make the rights and needs of the ten children the first priority. Great care and caution needed to be taken with the children to ensure their move out of Komanski Most did not endanger them.
Suitably trained and adequate staffing was required, and the children needed to have access educational opportunities, including attendance in classes at appropriate Centres in Podgorica.
“UNICEF is confident that the Komanski Most children will have a better future. The challenge now is to reach every child in this situation in Montenegro so this never happens again,” Skinner said. “UNICEF is working with the Government to develop a comprehensive child care system including the dismantling of institutions.”
The Country Programme Action Plan 2010-2011 signed March 24 by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the UNICEF Representative aims at increasing the percentage of children and families having access to family and community-based alternatives to institutionalization.
The implementation of this programme will enhance support to biological families for prevention of separation and for formal child care in line with international standards. This will be achieved through the transformation of residential institutions and the development of local capacities for provision of family support and family substitute services.
An example of this is the UNICEF supported Day Care Centre for Children with disabilities in Bijelo Polje that is now being replicated across Montenegro.
“UNICEF welcomes the expansion of the network of Day Care Centres in the country, and urges complete coverage, with Centres in every municipality” says the UNICEF Representative.
Substantial support for child care system reform is also envisaged by the European Union which attaches specific importance to child protection (including de-institutionalization) in the accession process.
“ In the case of previous enlargement of the EU, reforming the child protection system was an important milestone on the road to the European Union and it will be no less important for Montenegro" says Clive Rumbold, Acting Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro
The overarching reform is to provide assistance to families needing support to care for their children. UNICEF believes that the best environment for raising children is within a loving and supportive family. Alternative means of caring for a child should only be considered when, despite this assistance, a child’s family is unavailable and unable to care for him or her. For children who cannot be raised by their own families, an appropriate alternative family environment should be sought in preference to institutional care. This can include small group facilities. But placing a child in any kind of institution should be a last resort and for the shortest time possible.
“There is much to be done to develop a continuum of child and social protection services, and UNICEF is fully committed to supporting child protection reform” says Ms. Skinner.
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