Children in alternative care
In line with child protection priorities of the region, the main data needs on children in alternative care and adoption are:
- knowing how many children are in alternative care, by type of care arrangement;
- knowing how many children are formally adopted during the year, by type of adoption;
- the basic profile of children living in alternative care and of adopted children, including age, sex and disability status;
- understanding how many children enter alternative care during the year, and the reasons for placement with a view to see whether family support and gatekeeping mechanisms are functioning;
- understanding how many children leave alternative care during the year and where they go, including how many are reunited with their families; and
- understanding how the alternative care and adoption systems are regulated, work in practice and what outcomes for children they produce in order to contextualize the information above
Two forms of formal alternative care arrangements are considered here:
1) Family-Based Care
Family-based care includes Kinship care, Foster care, and other forms of family-based care such as Guardianship care.
1. Kinship care: “family-based care within the child’s extended family or with close friends of the family known to the child which has been ordered by a competent administrative body or judicial authority”. 
2. Foster care: “situations where children are placed by a competent authority for the purpose of alternative care in the domestic environment of a family other than the children’s own family that has been selected, qualified, approved and supervised for providing such care”. 
3. Other forms of family-based care: across the region of Europe and Central Asia, there are many different forms of formal family-based care and countries use different terms to describe these forms of care. Some of these can be easily subsumed under the two categories above (foster care, kinship care); while others might not fit under those categories, such as “guardianship care”. It is essential, however, that all children in all forms of family-based care that is ordered by a competent authority in the region are counted. Countries should thus ensure that children in formal family-based care other than foster or kinship care, are counted under “Other forms of family-based care” to ensure data comparability at regional level. At country-level, data on children in family-based care should be disaggregated by the various formal family-based care arrangements that exist in the country.
2) Residential Care
Residential care is provided in a non-family-based group setting with paid and/or unpaid staff where some children live and receive care and are placed by order of a competent authority. Parental rights are transferred to the state in the case of these children. This also includes relinquishment, which refers to situations where the parent(s) surrender their parental rights voluntarily and to situations in which parents are temporarily unable or not in a position to care for the child (e.g. where one or both parents are in prison, children are temporarily left behind by migrating parents).
Residential care may be provided full-time, for most of the year, temporary or for a defined period. Some countries in the region use these variables in their disaggregation of residential care data.
Residential care facilities can be operated by government at national and/or subnational level or by a private entity, including facilities operated by civil society and faith-based or organisations with religious affiliation. In case facilities are operated by the state, oversight may be provided by different sectors of the government (for instance social welfare, education or health). In some countries in the region, all residential care settings are licensed by the state or subnational authorities, but not in all. A census or map of residential care settings should include those with and without a license to capture all children in residential care.
This definition of residential care includes a wide range of residential care settings, from small group homes to large residential facilities, such as infant homes (up to the age of 3) and long-term baby care in maternity hospitals, children’s homes and orphanages, institutions including hospitals and special schools/institutions for people/children with disabilities, special boarding schools where children are placed and cared for who have, for example, dropped out of school, engaged in risk practices, are victims of violence, are children from vulnerable families, have special educational needs, among other institutions and care settings. Ideally, the competent national authority will carry out a census and map all residential care arrangements at national and subnational level in regular intervals, including the capacity of the facilities and the admission criteria for children cared for therein.
As in the case of formal family-based care, it is essential that countries count all children without parental care placed by a competent authority in all residential care settings following the proposed and agreed definitions in this manual to ensure data comparability. At country-level, data on children in residential care should be disaggregated by the various residential care settings that exist in the country and who provide care to these children.
Calculating the proposed indicator 1. (children in alternative care) and indicator. (number of children in residential care over the total number of children in alternative care) that require aggregated data on the total number of children in formal alternative care arrangements in the region is challenging. Not all countries in the region have carried out a census or mapped the broad range of alternative care arrangements ordered by competent authorities for children without parental care. Moreover, the administrative data on alternative care arrangements requires that multiple institutions and organisations from different sectors at national and subnational level report on various data. This heightens the risk of errors such as duplication, among others. To ensure that the data from these institutions and organisations is of the highest possible quality, it is critical that countries ensure that the data is collected and analysed in line with quality standards for statistical data and that the data is integrated, which requires expertise, which can be found particularly in NSOs.
In cases where residential care facilities, such as infant homes, also provide other services, such as outpatient and/or day care, only those children should be counted who are staying overnight in the facility and receive some care.
In cases where residential care facilities care for children who were placed there without an order of a competent authority, these children should be counted separately.
Alternative care: according to the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children (GA A/RES/64/142), alternative care is “where the child’s own family is unable, even with appropriate support, to provide adequate care for the child, or abandons or relinquishes the child, the State is responsible for protecting the rights of the child and ensuring appropriate alternative care, with or through competent local authorities and duly authorized civil society organizations. It is the role of the State, through its competent authorities, to ensure the supervision of the safety, well-being and development of any child placed in alternative care and the regular review of the appropriateness of the care arrangement provided”.
Competent authority: here, this “…is the part of the formal care system that decides how a child’s need for care will be met with due regard to the child’s best interests. Competent authorities may include: Magistrate or Justice of the Peace courts, District or local courts, Juvenile courts, Local council tribunals, Administrative or welfare panels, Child protection committees or boards, or Social welfare departments… Depending on each context, children may be placed with differing agents who may have responsibility for children under differing mandates, e.g., disabled children who receive long-term or permanent care within institutions managed by health authorities, or children who grow up in religious institutions such as monasteries.”
Scope of alternative care: the scope of alternative care as foreseen in the 2009 Alternative Care Guidelines (GA A/RES/64/142)
[ 9 ] does not extend , to children “…who are deprived of their liberty by decision of a judicial or administrative authority as a result of being alleged as, accused of or recognized as having infringed the law, and whose situation is covered by the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice and the UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of Their Liberty…Care by adoptive parents from the moment the child concerned is effectively placed in their custody pursuant to a final adoption order, as of which moment…the child is considered to be in parental care”.
Formal alternative care: the minimum set of core indicators on children in alternative care focuses on data on children who are placed in formal alternative care arrangements, which are ordered with or through competent authorities and refers to children who are without parental care – they are cared for by the State either on a permanent or temporary basis. In line with the Alternative Care Guidelines: “formal care: all care provided in a family environment which has been ordered by a competent administrative body or judicial authority, and all care provided in a residential environment, including in private facilities, whether or not as a result of administrative or judicial measures” .
Informal alternative care: there are also children in informal care arrangements in the region. An informal care arrangement is, “…any private arrangement provided in a family environment…without this arrangement having been ordered by an administrative or judicial authority or a duly accredited body”. In many cases, the competent authorities are not aware of these arrangements. Consequently, it is difficult to obtain a realistic picture of the number of children in such arrangements. Therefore, the choice was made not to include an indicator on children in informal alternative care. However, in line with the 2009 Alternative Care Guidelines (GA A/RES/64/142), countries in Europe and Central Asia “should recognize the role played by this type of care” and “competent authorities should, where appropriate, encourage informal carers to notify the care arrangement and should seek to ensure their access to all available services and benefits likely to assist them in discharging their duty to care for and protect the child”. Countries should also “…devise special and appropriate measures designed to protect children in informal care from abuse, neglect, child labour and all other forms of exploitation…”.
 See: https://www.unicef.org/protection/alternative_care_Guidelines-English.pdf, p.6.
 “Guardianship care” is a form of formal family-based care ordered by a competent authority (i.e. court or administrative authority) and it encompasses care arrangements in which a child is being cared for and living with the person appointed by a competent authority as guardian for the child. In many such cases, the guardian is kin to the child, so in some countries, children in guardianship care would be subsumed under formal “kinship care”.
 Based on a working definition used by the Data and Analytics Section of
, UNICEF New York (2019).
 In Europe and Central Asia, there continue to exist residential care facilities in which children are not placed by a competent authority and which are operating without a license issued by a regulatory/licensing body. When carrying out a census or mapping of residential care facilities across the county, these facilities should also be captured, as reform efforts of the state should focus on all children in any form of residential care.
 See for instance: https://www.unece.org/stats/stats_h.html.
 According to UNECE’s Generic Statistical Business Process Model (GSBPM), integration is defined as “the activity when at least two different sources of data are combined into a dataset. This dataset can be one that already exists in the statistical system or ones that are external sources.” In this context, data integration refers to “…an integrated dataset that serves as an input to produce official statistics, in the statistical business process when data from one or more sources are integrated…” See: https://statswiki.unece.org/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=169018059
 See: https://www.unicef.org/protection/alternative_care_Guidelines-English.pdf, p.3.
 Better Care Network and UNICEF (January 2009). Manual for the Measurement of Indicators for Children in Formal Care, p.24. See: https://www.unicef.org/protection/Formal_Care20Guide20FINAL.pdf.
 See: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/beijingrules.pdf.
 See: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/JuvenilesDeprivedOfLiberty.aspx.
 See: https://www.unicef.org/protection/alternative_care_Guidelines-English.pdf, p.7.
 “Children sometimes lose their first line of protection – their parents. Reasons for separation include abduction, trafficking, migration, living on the street, being displaced, or recruited by armed forces; living in alternative care due to health issues, educational reasons, household violence, poverty, death of parents, or stigma” - see: https://www.unicef.org/protection/57929_58004.html. See also: https://www.unicef.org/protection/Formal_Care20Guide20FINAL.pdf.
 See: https://www.unicef.org/protection/alternative_care_Guidelines-English.pdf, p. 5.
 Ibid., p. 6.
Access to justice
In line with child protection priorities of the region, the main data needs on access to justice (A2J) for children are:
- Understanding whether children’s access to justice is improving, as well as their equality before and under the law by knowing whether children are provided with legal representation in criminal proceedings, and how many children are sentenced to custodial sentences or alternative measures;
- Knowing whether crime against children are reduced and prevented by understanding how many children victims or witnesses to a crime are, and how many cases of crime against children are brought to trial and end in criminal convictions, as child abuse, violence and exploitation should not occur with impunity;
- Understanding whether detention is used as a last resort and for the shortest time possible, by collecting data on the number of children in pre- and post-trial detention, and on the duration of detention;
- Monitoring whether child-friendly procedures for children in contact with the law are applied by understanding children’s access to legal representation and to independent human rights mechanisms.
These data needs reflect core child rights’ principles that are enshrined in the UN CRC, as well as in several international frameworks that recognize children’s access to justice or pertain to access to justice and the rights of every person.
Access to justice: refers to the ability to obtain a just and timely remedy for violations of rights as put forth in national legislation and international norms and standards. It applies to civil, administrative and criminal spheres of national jurisdictions including customary and religious justice, international jurisdictions and alternative and/or restorative dispute resolution mechanisms. Access to justice incorporates all relevant judicial proceedings that affect children, without limitation, including children accused of or having committed an offence, child victims and witnesses, as well as children coming into contact with the justice system for other reasons such as asylum hearings, their care, custody or protection. Access to justice for children is often hampered by justice systems that are not child-friendly.
Child-friendly justice systems: child-friendly justice systems are justice systems that ensure that children in contact with them are protected and that the justice mechanisms operate in the best interest of the child and take into account the child’s age and development stage, for example, by promoting alternatives to detention, establishing restorative justice and diversion programmes, training justice professionals and traditional or customary justice mechanisms in child rights and protection.
Alternatives to custodial sentences or alternatives to deprivation of liberty: the institutionalisation of children should generally be avoided. The so-called ‘Beijing Rules’ list various dispositions that can be applied to children (Rule 18.1). Alternatives for children emphasize “care, guidance and supervision orders” (Rule 18.1(a)), as well as “orders concerning foster care, living communities or other educational settings” (Rule 18.1(c)). These dispositions underline the importance of welfare-oriented alternatives to sentences of imprisonment in the case of children.
Child victims or witnesses: child victims and witnesses are persons under the age of 18 years who are victims or witnesses to a crime, regardless of their role in the offence or the prosecution of the alleged offender.
Diversion: diversion involves removal of children from criminal justice processing and, frequently, redirection to community support services. This practice mitigates the negative effects of subsequent proceedings in justice administration for children (for example the stigma of conviction and sentence). In many cases, non-intervention is the best response, especially where the offence is of a non-serious nature and where the family, the school or other informal social control institutions have already reacted, or are likely to react, in an appropriate and constructive manner. Diversion may be used at any point of decision-making-by the police, the prosecution or other agencies such as the courts, tribunals, boards or councils. It may be exercised by one authority or several or all authorities, according to the rules and policies of justice systems. It need not necessarily be limited to petty cases, thus rendering diversion an important instrument. The Beijing Rules provide specifically that “[c]onsideration shall be given, wherever appropriate, to dealing with juvenile offenders without resorting to a formal trial” (Rule 11.1).
Age of criminal responsibility: “the age of criminal responsibility is the age at which children are deemed by the national law in question to be capable of committing an offence. Under CRC Article 40(3)(a), it is an obligation of States parties to seek to establish such a minimum age.” Data from the region on the age of criminal responsibility show that the age varies, but that in many countries, criminal responsibility starts at the age of 14. However, some countries “…have more than one age of criminal responsibility depending upon the category of offence committed…(and)…countries that make use of an administrative system for minor offences may define the age at which a child can be subject to administrative sanctions”.
Competent authority: here, it means “the competent authority is the part of the juvenile justice or adult criminal justice system that is responsible for making procedural or disposition decisions regarding a child’s case”.
Classification of crime: ideally, a standard classification would be used by all countries across the region to report data on crime, such as the International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes to ensure comparability. However, classifications vary, and countries are therefore asked to report data based on their national classification.
Type and duration of sentences: the type of sentences should be divided between: (1) “custodial sentences” and (2) “alternative measures”. At country-level, variables to further disaggregate “alternative measures” could also be applied .
Restorative justice: restorative justice is an approach to justice that focuses on addressing the harm caused by crime, while holding the offender responsible for their actions and providing an opportunity for the parties directly affected by the crime (victims, offenders and communities) to identify and address their needs in the aftermath of a crime. Restorative justice processes take various forms and may take place at all stages of the criminal justice system. They involve, for instance, victim-offender mediation, sentencing circles, family or indigenous justice processes, among others.
 Such as UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (‘Beijing Rules’) 1985; the UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (‘Havana Rules’) 1990; the UN Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (‘Riyadh Guidelines’) 1990; the Guidelines for Action on Children in the Criminal Justice System. Annex to UN Resolution 1997/30 – Administration of Juvenile Justice (‘Vienna Guidelines’) 1997; the UN Common Approach to Justice for Children (2008); or the UN Guidelines on Justice in Matters involving Child Victims and Witnesses of Crime 2005, among others.
 Such as the UN Standard Minimum Rules for Non-custodial Measures (‘Tokyo Rules’) 1990; Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners 1955; Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment 1988; or the UN Basic Principles on the use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters 2002, among others.
 Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General. A/HRC/25/35. 16 December 2013.
 This refers to the whole range of traditional, customary, religious and informal justice mechanisms that deal with disputes at community level.
 See: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/beijingrules.pdf.
 See the Toolkit on Diversion and Alternatives to Detention: https://www.unicef.org/tdad/index_55660.html.
 See: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/beijingrules.pdf.
 See: https://www.unodc.org/pdf/criminal_justice/Manual_for_the_Measurement_of_Juvenile_Justice_Indicators.pdf.
 Ibid., p.32.
 See: https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/statistics/iccs.html and the EU guidelines for the International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes — ICCS (2017 edition) https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/3859598/8305054/KS-GQ-17-010-EN-N.pdf/feefb266-becc-441c-8283-3f9f74b29156.
 See the disaggregation variables applied in the 2019 TransMonEE database (www.transmonee.org).
Violence against children
Children have a right to be protected from all forms of violence. One of the programming priority areas on violence against children (VAC) and harmful practices is to “build the evidence base”. To ensure an effective national response to VAC and harmful practices, data are needed, for instance, to:
- Understand the prevalence and patterns of key manifestations of VAC and harmful practices;
- Know which children are particularly affected;
- Understand structural drivers and risk/protective factors and consequences of VAC and harmful practices;
- Know where VAC and harmful practices take place;
- Understand what works and what doesn’t to prevent and reduce VAC and harmful practices.
Many indicators have already been created for monitoring VAC and harmful practices in countries (for instance from the SDGs, INSPIRE, FRA and UNICEF’s Strategic Plan 2018-2021). A choice was made to focus in the region on one VAC indicator that requires the collection and collation of administrative data from key child protection authorities, namely social welfare, health, education, and justice, as this is considered a key gap in the evidence base on VAC.
At the same time, countries should harvest data from data collection for SDG indicators on VAC and harmful practices. These indicators should be considered with available survey data (for instance from MICS, DHS or VAC surveys implemented in the region), and combined with qualitative data and information from key stakeholders to meet data needs of the countries on VAC and harmful practices.
 UN CRC 1989, Article 19. See: www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx.
 See: https://www.unicef.org/protection/files/UNICEF-INSPIRE-Book.pdf, Seven strategies for ending violence against children.
 See: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/indicators/indicators-list/.
 See: https://www.unicef.org/protection/files/UNICEF-INSPIRE-Book.pdf and https://www.unicef.org/media/66896/file/INSPIRE-IndicatorGuidance-ResultsFramework.pdf..
 EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s (FRA), see: https://fra.europa.eu/en/news/2018/responding-violence-against-children.
 See: https://www.unicef.org/documents/unicef-strategic-plan-goal-area-3-indicator-manual and https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/1301145..
Child: in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child is every human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.
Adolescent: an adolescent is defined by the United Nations as every human being between the ages of 10 and 19 years.
Young people: are defined by the United Nations as every human being between the ages of 10 and 24 years.
Population: the recommended definition by Eurostat is the “usually resident population”. It represents in the case of the proposed child protection indicators the resident population of children aged 0-17 in the reference country on 31 December of the reference year.
Sex: disaggregation by sex means here collecting and tabulating the data separately for girls and boys. Note that collecting and presenting data by sex does not assure that concepts reflecting gender roles and gender identity, relations and inequalities in the region are captured and reflected. However, disaggregation of data collected and presented by sex is a core characteristic of gender statistics.
Age: ideally, the child’s individual age is recorded, which allows data analysts to aggregate the data into any age group required by national law and/or international standards. This practice is recommended in international guidance and particularly useful in a region like Europe and Central Asia where countries use different age groups to report on the same indicator. While this may require changes to data collection and aggregation practices, it will ensure comparability of data across the region in the longer term.
There are some indicators that require data on specific ages of children, for instance indicators requiring data on children who have reached the age of criminal responsibility or data on children in infant homes. This is noted in this manual in the details on each indicator.
Disability: according to Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006), people with disabilities (including children) are “those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”.
However, definitions of “disability” vary greatly across Europe and Central Asia – sometimes different sectors (for example health, education, social) within a country use different definitions. Also, some countries speak about “special needs” rather than “disabilities”; while in other European and Central Asian countries this term means something entirely different.
Though there is no unified and standard language and framework for disability in Europe and Central Asia; the WHO International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) provides a unified and standard language and framework for the description and coding of the relevant information about functioning, disability and health. It uses a standardized common language permitting communication about health and health care across the world in various disciplines and sciences. Since its publication, it has been used widely as a statistical tool in the collection and recording of data on disability in management information systems.
Country of citizenship: requires analysis of the countries of citizenship (registering the citizenship of each child, including statelessness of children and cases in which the citizenship is unknown) and helps to establish some overview of the number of children who are placed outside their country of citizenship, thus reflecting movement of children, for example as a result of conflict, natural disasters, trafficking and economic migration.
 See: https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx.
 See: https://data.unicef.org/topic/adolescents/overview/.
 See: http://www.searo.who.int/entity/child_adolescent/topics/adolescent_health/en/.
 See: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/cache/metadata/fr/demo_urespop_esms.htm.
 See for instance: https://www.unicef.org/protection/Formal_Care20Guide20FINAL.pdf.
 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) Article 1, see: https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities.html.
 On the different measurement options, see: https://dokumen.tips/documents/navigating-the-landscape-of-child-disability-measurement-a-review-.html.
 See: https://www.who.int/classifications/icf/en/.
 Some countries in the region collect data on “unaccompanied minors” in alternative care. Eurostat’s definition for unaccompanied minors, which is applied across European Union (EU) countries, states “unaccompanied minor means minor as defined in Article 2(I) of Directive 2011/95/EU i.e. a minor who arrives on the territory of the…(state)…unaccompanied by an adult responsible for him or her whether by law or by the practice of the…(state)…concerned, and for as long as he or she is not effectively taken into the care of such a person; it includes a minor who is left unaccompanied after he or she has entered the territory of the…(state)”. See: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/cache/metadata/en/migr_asyapp_esms.htm. As this is not a definition yet widely used outside the EU, this Manual uses the variable “country of citizenship” as a “proxy” variable, which is also a standard Eurostat variable.