The impact of child separation and institutionalization is severe and can last a lifetime. Children placed in institutions are deprived of social, emotional and intellectual stimulation which can hamper the healthy development of a child’s brain. Shut away from mainstream society, these children are also particularly vulnerable to violence, neglect and abuse.
Nothing can replace family for a child
In Kyrgyzstan, a large number of children are deprived of their right to grow up in a family environment. UNICEF research on children in residential care institutions showed that 11,000 children live in 117 residential institutions across the country, among them, 94 per cent have at least one living parent.
In Kyrgyzstan, 94 percent of children in residential institutions have at least one living parent.
In 2016, there were 29,317 children with disabilities registered with the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and receiving state benefits, which equates to 1.2 per cent of children in the country. In addition to limited opportunities for children with developmental delays and disabilities to reach their development potential, they are often abandoned, excluded or institutionalized due to widespread stigma and limited access to services, with 29 per cent of all children living in residential institutions having some type of disability.
Recent surveys show that for every three months a child spends in residential care, his or her physical development is lagging behind by one month.
In spite of this, residential care remains the norm, although UNICEF studies show that the resources spent on residential care for children deprived of parental care could be better used to provide services for families or support foster families.