UNICEF promotes alternative care for children
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, 20 April 2012. – Key members of Regional Departments for Inspectors of Guardianship and Trusteeship and Regional Commissions of Minors from across Uzbekistan met together today in Tashkent to discuss practical aspects of implementation of the UN Guidelines on Alternative Care and thus to strenghen the protection of children without parental care.
The roundtable meeting was convened jointly by the SOS Children’s Villages Uzbekistan Association and UNICEF. Representatives of Ministries of Education, Health, Labour and Social Protection and the Office of Prosecutor-General also took part in the meeting.
The roundtable equipped front line decision makers with knowledge and tools to provide care for children in their own families. The UN Guidelines on Alternative Care were discussed to understand and promote ideas for alternative forms of family type care rather than placing children in institutions.
The family holds the fundamental responsibility and provides the best natural environment for the growth, well-being and protection of children. It is important to ensure that children remain with their families and are not placed in institutions unless it is an action of last resort and is in the best interest of the child. Family support services should assist children and their parents to prevent any separation. If however, children are separated from their family, every effort should be made to reunite them as soon as possible with their parents or, when appropriate, other close family members. The use of suitable alternative forms of family-type care such as foster care should be considered whilst these efforts are being made to re-unite children with their own family.
Many studies show that there can be many harmful social and developmental consequences for children who have been institutionalised which may affect them for the rest of their life. They can grow up to have very low self-esteem, inability to trust others and this may even lead to suicide attempts. Lack of confidence and reduced cognitive abilities can also lead to weak performance at school and consequent poor employment opportunities. All research shows that children have the best developmental opportunities when all efforts are made to ensure they can be offered love, care and support inside their own family.
Ms. Christine Gale, UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, introduced key principles of the Convention of the Rights of the Children and the UN Guidelines on Alternative Care. In group work and discussions, the participants brainstormed over how to use the Guidelines in their own work to safeguard children.