First Group Home for Children Deprived of Parental Care Opened
BEROVO, 20 November 2008: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy celebrate Universal Children’s Day by the opening of the first group home in the country. Serving as a model for ensuring children deprived of parental care grow up in a family environment, the new group home in Berovo will bring five children from an orphanage in the capital Skopje, back to be cared for by their own community.
“With this first small group home, we provide children deprived of parental care a new home. A home that is closer to their friends. A home that will provide a family environment including parental care and their own personal space, like in every ordinary family,” said the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Mr. Xhelal Bajrami.
Currently in the country there are some 400 children placed in eight institutions that care for children deprived of parents and parental care. UNICEF Representative, Mr Sheldon Yett emphasized that children are best protected in a family setting, not in large institutions. “A family is a child’s first line of protection,” Mr. Yett said. He added the priority should always be on preventing children from losing parental care, reuniting those who have been separated from their families and ensuring the availability of supportive family environments for those who can’t return to parents or relatives
“Families need to be supported to care for their children. It is the responsibility of states and communities to support families to look after their children.” stated Mr. Yett.
With financial support from the Norwegian Government, UNICEF has been working together with the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy developing and implementing strategies to support the transfer of children out of institutions. In addition to further developing preventative family support services, the national strategy, endorsed by the Government earlier this year envisages transitioning all children out of institutions by 2018. The strategy includes transforming existing institutions and developing more family and community-based services; establishing systems to monitor the quality of social services delivered; ensuring professional practices are upgraded and that systematic pre-service and in-service training is available..
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