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Joint press release: “Every child needs a family”

ANKARA, 18 April 2013 - All girls and boys need a warm family environment which will protect, love and support them, and give them a sense of security. Yet about 14,000 children in Turkey are living in institutions and homes, without a family to look after them and which they can be part of. In most cases, their birth parents are alive, but are unable to meet the needs of their children for various reasons including mental, physical and psychological challenges or economic and social problems.

Turkish Minister for the Family and Social Policies, Ms. Fatma Şahin, and UNICEF Regional Director Office for CEE/CIS, Ms. Marie-Pierre Poirier, today renewed their commitment for children. - UNICEF Turkey / 2013

The Ministry for the Family and Social Policy aims to keep children with their own parents whenever possible, and provides financial assistance and counselling to this end. However, where this cannot be done, the best option is to provide care services in a family-based context until the conditions of the child’s birth parents improve.

Over the past few months, the Ministry has been working hard to increase the number of foster families and improve the quality of foster care. A new and more flexible regulation has been issued. Information and training material has been prepared for interested parents, professionals and volunteers. And a large-scale communication campaign stressing that “Every child needs a family” has been conducted under the leadership of Ms Emine Erdogan.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child indicates the importance of living in a family environment as a fundamental right of all children. Institutional care can ensure children’s rights to shelter, health and protection, but it can never take the place of a warm family environment. For this reason, UNICEF has publicly backed the Ministry’s campaign and supported its work in developing the foster care system.

Already, 611 children have been newly placed under foster care since the beginning of the campaign - a 40% increase by comparison with previous years. Foster care developments can be followed daily on the official website.

Marie-Pierre Poirier Director of UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS, expressed her admiration for the Ministry’s efforts: ‘Expanding quality foster care for all children – including those with behavioural difficulties and severe disabilities – responds to a great need,” she said, “In this way, they can receive individualised care and love while their biological parents are supported to overcome their problems. In this way, no baby or toddler will have to stay in an institution, which research shows is very harmful for very young children”.

Minister for the Family and Social Policies Fatma Şahin welcomed UNICEF’s recognition of Turkey’s impressive progress. “The Ministry of Family and Social Policy is committed to guarantee children’s rights, and the right to grow up in a family environment is one of those rights which the government of Turkey cares about very much,” she explained. “This is only the beginning of our campaign and we will keep on sharing the results of our reforms for children, with children, and in their best interests.”



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