Tirana, 30 May 2018- In Albania, 230 children are currently living in public residential care institutions, however, majority of them have biological families. Unfortunately, placing children in the large residential care institution is a poverty-driven phenomenon. Today, to end placing children in residential care, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection along with UNICEF launched a strategic plan on alternative care for children without parental care.
Research now conclusively shows early childhood development, 0-3 years, is crucial for children to reach their full potential. Yet, despite advances in scientific knowledge a worrying number of young children continue to spend their most formative years in unsuitable environments.
The strategic plan aims to reduce the number of children living in residential care by preventing family separation where possible, and seeking homes for children in family-based care such as foster homes. The care plan presented today will look at the assessment of every child; performance assessment of every employee and infrastructure assessment of institutions. At the same time, the Alternative Care options for children will include: biological family reunion, temporary custody, kinship, foster family; adoption, small “casa famiglia” and youth integration programme.
UNICEF Representative in Albania, Dr Roberto De Bernardi said: “Albania have shown promising practices. Let us on now build on this momentum and accelerate change. Stronger investments are needed in community-based family support programmes to prevent children from being separated from their families in the first place and transition children out of residential care and back with their biological families”
Minister of Health and Social Protection Mrs Ogerta Manastirliu said:
“Now, we have a clear picture of the situation on how social service delivery works in all of our institutions. From all the inspections and monitoring carried out by our Ministry's specialists we have evidenced all the problems and shortcomings that require urgent actions. We have never and will never remain silent towards child abuse and maltreatment. Violence and abuse against children is an offence which must be reported and every case must be addressed. We have never and will never remain silent towards the lack of professionalism, vision and the will to provide these services with commitment."
UNICEF in Albania will continue to support the Government in improving the relevant legal and normative framework and the increase of social welfare and child protection practitioners’ capacities as a direct measure to strengthen coping mechanisms of families in the situation of vulnerability, to prevent the risk of child separation from the family environment.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.