Child protection

The Issue

Justice for Children

Violence Against Children

Child Care Reform


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UNICEF in action

© UNICEF/CEECIS2013P-0355/Pirozzi

With support and guidance from UNICEF, most countries in this region have initiated reforms of their child care and welfare systems, and started to develop services that include family and child support services such as social work with families and children, family-based alternative care such as foster care, and gatekeeping services provided through individual case management. Croatia, Serbia and Romania have all approved laws to prevent infants being institutionalized at all. 

We work with governments, civil society, individuals and the private sector to build a protective environment around each and every child. In a protective environment, everyone should take responsibility to protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation, from lawmakers, the media and social services to parents and children themselves. This also includes the building and strengthening of national child protection systems – we push for better policy frameworks, strengthened legislation and services. Equity is at the heart of UNICEF’s response to child protection, requiring a strong focus on the most disadvantaged to ensure that they are the first in line for our interventions.

Looking ahead, UNICEF is working to prevent the separation of children from their families through measures such as advocating for further support for vulnerable families, building the standards of practice for health staff to parents in the most vulnerable groups and promoting the social inclusion of children with disabilities. 

Our goals are clear. Children should never be separated from their families unless this is in the best interests of the child. Placement in residential care of children under 3 years of age must be restricted to a short-term emergency measure or a planned stay not exceeding six months, and only as a last resort, when it is absolutely necessary and in the best interests of the child. We therefore advocate for greater investment in preventative family support services, development of family-based care and strengthening of the gatekeeping system.

Last updated November 2013



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