USAID contributes to UNICEF Child Adoption Programme in Viet Nam
Ha Noi, 26 April 2011 - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded a US$300,000 grant to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Viet Nam to support a child adoption activity that will be implemented from 2011 to 2013. The “Strengthening Legislation and Monitoring Systems for Child Adoption” programme is also supported with US$700,000 from the French National Committee for UNICEF.
The USAID grant is of great importance to the Government of Viet Nam as it will contribute to the implementation of the adoption reform. It aims to support Viet Nam in critical areas of child adoption. In particular, the grant will contribute to the improvement of the current legal and regulatory framework to ensure its compliance with international standards to better protect children without parental care through the development and implementation of national legislation and policies on domestic and inter-country adoption, and the ratification of the Hague Convention. In addition, the grant will support setting up a national monitoring system for child adoption, developing a comprehensive assessment on the root causes of child abandonment and relinquishment as well as building the capacity of policy makers, welfare and enforcement personnel to better protect children. Finally, the grant will help improve protection and care for children deprived of parental care through the promulgation of new policies, guidelines and standards on alternative care, and pilot the implementation of new alternative care models, including foster care, and inter-country adoption programmes for children with special needs.
“We applaud the Government of Viet Nam for its strong commitments in improving child adoption and highly appreciate the timely financial support from USAID and other international partners to UNICEF. We hope that the Government will soon ratify the Hague Convention to put into action the principles regarding inter-country adoption which are contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child”, says Ms. Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Viet Nam Representative. “UNICEF is strongly committed to support the Government to establish comprehensive child protection systems, including the development of efficient alternative care and child adoption systems for children in need of special protection. We believe that these important efforts will provide better long-term care solutions for the most vulnerable children and reduce their vulnerability to abuse and exploitation.”
Adoption is the one of the main forms of alternative care available for children in need of special protection in Viet Nam, including orphaned, abandoned and relinquished children, children with disabilities and other groups of vulnerable children. As of the late 1990s, Viet Nam has ranked among the most popular countries of origin for child adoption, with at least 10,000 children being adopted worldwide in the last decade. Statistics from the Assessment of the Adoption System in Viet Nam by International Social Services (ISS), which was commissioned by UNICEF and the Ministry of Justice in 2009, show that adoptions from Viet Nam are significant and have generally been on the increase in recent years (from 1,183 cases to 1,658 cases annually between 2002 and 2008 respectively).
While domestic adoption is not fully developed, there have been various concerns about inter-country adoption from Viet Nam, including the increased number of abandoned children for inter-country adoption. There is a lack of knowledge and understanding around child abandonment, as well as an absence of effective prevention mechanisms and support services for vulnerable families and parents. A central monitoring system for abandoned children and child adoption is also missing. Family-based alternative care models which can provide children with a temporary or permanent home are limited.
Aware of the problem, the Government of Viet Nam is taking positive actions to address these concerns. Since 2008, the Government has engaged in a reform of its adoption system, which resulted in the approval by the National Assembly of a new national Law on Adoption in June 2010, and a Decree to guide the implementation of the Law in March 2011. The approval of the Adoption Law and the Decree sets an important milestone in the process of improving child adoption system for vulnerable children in Viet Nam.
Another positive development is the step taken by Viet Nam towards the accession to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation with respect to Inter-country Adoption, which Viet Nam signed in December 2010. This Convention is critically important because it will oblige Viet Nam to ensure that adoption is authorised only by competent authorities, that inter-country adoption enjoys the same safeguards and standards which apply in national adoption processes, and is used only when no permanent domestic family-like alternative is available, and that inter-country adoption does not result in improper financial gain for those involved. Thus, there is urgency for the country to reform its legal system and improve national capacity in order to comply with the Convention articles by the time of ratification.
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