Every child needs a family: UNICEF launches a public campaign to promote family care in Ukraine
Kyiv, 12 November 2012 – More than 94,000 children in Ukraine grow up in institutions. As set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted by Ukraine, every child has the right to grow up in the family with parents whose duty is upholding the interests of their child.
In November UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Ukraine launched campaign “Every child needs a family” aimed at raising public awareness about children’s right to grow in a warm and protective family environment. This campaign targets all regions of Ukraine with a series of city-lights, billboards as well as video spots. This campaign is a part of our broader advocacy efforts for effective policy and support services for families and prevention of children’s separation from their parents.
“Unfortunately, too many children are separated from their biological family. It is necessary to provide more effective social services for all families in order to prevent children’s separation from the family, but also to give children timely protection from eventually life-threatening situations.” explained UNICEF Ukraine Child Protection Specialist Gabrielle Akimova. “Sadly, there are also cases that staying with their parents may be dangerous or harmful for children’s well-being. In such cases, children should be taken care of by an alternative family, such as a foster family or family-type children’s home. In Ukraine, residential care continues to be used significantly and certainly not as a last resort option,” she noted.
Currently, Ukrainian families in difficult situations get poor support in preventing family crisis. The severity of this problem is evidenced by the figure that every year the courts decide to remove 8,000—11,000 children from their families. Many of them are taken to state institutions. In Ukraine, the ratio of children growing up in institutions is four to ten times higher in comparison to other European countries. New scientific knowledge about childcare points to the negative effects on young children of staying in institutions, with many studies equating such stays with neglect. Placement in institution can lead to delay in their physical and psychological development, and negatively impacts on their emotional and cognitive development. The Convention on the Rights of the Child favors family-based forms of care and envisages institutional care only if necessary.
UNICEF welcomes the recent decree of the President of Ukraine on National Strategy to Prevent Social Orphanhood developed by the Ministry of Social Policy in coordination with civil society organizations, as well as the Government’s commitment to an additional 12,000 social workers at the local level. This will enable earlier identification of families facing problems by social workers to provide help to children and families.
“Time has come for Ukraine to make significant changes in its child care system. I strongly believe that Ukraine can end children’s placement in state institutions, but find an alternative solution, so that every child in Ukraine grows up in a family environment. UNICEF is committed to our close cooperation with the Government of Ukraine and civil society partners to achieve this critical goal for the protection of children’s rights,” said Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine.
UNICEF has also collaborated with partners to develop legislative provisions that contribute to improving monitoring, supporting biological and alternative families, and preventing the abandonment of babies and young children. These efforts have contributed to the significant drop in the number of young children from 0 to 3 years old living in institutions — from 2.52 per 1000 in 2007 to 1.86 in 2010. UNICEF also supported development of an in-service training programme for foster parents and parents of family-type children’s homes, providing these families with greater capacities to care for specific needs of vulnerable children.
About UNICEF: UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. UNICEF celebrates the 15th anniversary of their presence in Ukraine this year. It opened its office in Kyiv in 1997 following the conclusion of the Basic Cooperation Agreement between the Government of Ukraine and UNICEF. Later, it was ratified by the Parliament of Ukraine providing the basis for relationship and cooperation between the Government of Ukraine and UNICEF aimed at improving the lives of children and families throughout the territory of Ukraine. More info at: www.unicef.org.ua. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
For further information, please contact: Veronika Vaschenko, UNICEF Kyiv, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +38 044 254 2450, mobile: +38 050 388 2951.