12 June 2024

10 ways to create healthy digital habits at home

Raising kids in the digital age isn’t easy. It can be tough to keep up with the pace of emerging technologies and to understand how to balance the risks and opportunities that come with them. We spoke to digital parenting expert Dr. Jacqueline Nesi for her top tips on fostering a healthy relationship with technology as a family., Communicate early and often about the role of technology in your family’s life., 1. Ask your child questions about their devices the same way you would any other activity they’re engaged in. Find out what they like about them, what they don’t like about them, how often they use them and what’s working. 2. Discuss the risks of technology use. Talk to your children honestly about concerns you may have, such as devices getting in…, Set boundaries that make sense for your family., 4. Make “yes” and “no” rules. “Yes” rules are things your child should do. How do you want them to act online? What does it mean to be a good digital citizen? What does “healthy” technology use look like in your family?  “No” rules, on the other hand, are things you don’t want them to do (like bullying others) or things they shouldn’t do for…, Be aware of your children’s use of devices., 7. Explore technology together. Try co-viewing and co-use with children of all ages. This simply means watching or using technology together with your children. This could include watching a show together and talking to them about it. For an older child, have them show you what they’re up to online – what they’re interested in, what apps they like…, Model healthy habits for your children., 9. Act as a team. It’s important as parents to be aware of how (and how often) we’re using our own devices – and that’s hard! But joining with your children in establishing healthy habits and boundaries is a good opportunity to step outside of the “me versus you” dynamic that so often parents fall into with their children, and instead work to…
09 April 2024

Development of foster care in the Europe and Central Asia

The development of foster care in the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region should be seen in the context of a global movement for child care system reform, framed by the key principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC, 1989), the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD, 2006), the UN General Assembly Resolution on the Rights of the Child (2019) and the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children (2010). In Europe, these principles have been confirmed and further articulated in Article 16 of the European Social Charter (ESC, 1996) and the Common European Guidelines for the Transition from Institutional Care to Community-based Care (2012). Together, these conventions and guidelines provide a clear normative framework, which emphasizes that states should: invest in child and family-oriented community based social services; develop and strengthen laws, policies and programmes; and ensure that the social service workforce (SSW) and allied workforces in health, education, justice and social protection can address root causes and prevent the unnecessary separation of children from their families. They also emphasize the need to ensure that children with disabilities and other stigmatized and socially excluded children can live with their families and receive the support they need within their communities in terms of health, education, justice, play and leisure. This normative framework and policy vision, which emphasizes family support and prevention, has moved the global agenda on child care towards a more universal, child rights-based approach and away from a narrower focus on the closure of large-scale institutions. In the ECA region, decades of evidence-based advocacy and policy dialogue informed by this vision19 have resulted in significant progress in many countries in the reform and deinstitutionalization of national child care systems. This has been achieved through the development of effective, preventive and responsive family strengthening and family support mechanisms to reduce reliance on harmful institutional care. In many ECA countries, however, foster care is still underdeveloped, misunderstood and often unknown at local level, even though it is a key element of the transition from institution-based to family-based care services.20 National care systems in these countries, therefore, still tend to rely on institutional or kinship care. While kinship care is a vital form of support (and often the next best alternative for a child after parental care), it is becoming less of a viable option for many children because of the weakening of kinship ties, migration, social and economic instability and armed conflicts, combined with limited support from governments for kinship arrangements. When kin are not assessed for suitability and potential risks, and not supported and monitored, kinship care can also leave children at risk of neglect, exploitation or abuse. Formal foster care arrangements have been introduced or piloted in countries where the development of alternative care systems is more advanced, but they need continued support and investment to ensure that these new forms of care, and the systems to support them, are implemented and sustained successfully at scale, so that no child is left behind unnecessarily in institutional care, or suffers from low-quality community-based alternative care services. It is apparent, therefore, that while countries in the ECA region have made significant progress in developing foster care and that many are fully replacing institutional care, there is still considerable room for improvement in most countries. Up-to-date evidence and well-contextualized guidance can help national decision-makers in their efforts to reduce the harmful effects of institutional care, strengthen the continuum of child care services, prevent unnecessary family separation, improve the quality and effectiveness of family-based alternative care services, and, overall, ensure better outcomes for children and societies.
13 March 2024

UNICEF's training package on child-friendly legal services

In the complex and often daunting world of legal proceedings, the voice and rights of the child can become overshadowed. The 2018 UNICEF Guidelines on Child-Friendly Legal Aid, set out 12 guidelines on how to provide child-friendly legal services and legal aid in practice. Continuing its support in this area, UNICEF Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia (ECARO) has developed a pioneering Training Package on Child-Friendly Legal Services. This initiative is anchored in our unwavering commitment to championing the rights of every child, as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international human rights instruments. The essence of child-friendly legal aid lies in its holistic approach to ensuring that children navigating the justice system are met with compassion, understanding, and the utmost respect for their rights. Whether as witnesses, victims, or accused, children deserve to have their rights fully respected and protected throughout the justice process. The Training Package on Child-Friendly Legal Services is designed to equip lawyers and other legal service providers with the necessary knowledge, attitudes, and skills to deliver legal services that are in the best interests of the child. Key Features of the Training Package: The package includes core modules on children's rights, child development, child-sensitive communication, and privacy, among others. Optional module on strategic litigation is also available, with more to be developed based on evolving needs. Designed for both seasoned practitioners and those new to child-friendly legal services, the training emphasizes interactive learning and practical engagement to foster deep understanding and empathy. The training is rooted in the principles of the CRC, emphasizing the child's right to be heard, non-discrimination, and the prioritization of the child's best interests in all legal proceedings. Tested and refined through training-of-trainers sessions in multiple countries, this package is poised to influence child-friendly legal aid practices globally, with particular attention to the needs of vulnerable children. For more information and to download the training package, please contact iverzivolli@unicef.org