Every child has the right to protection. In Moldova UNICEF strengthens national child protection systems, particularly in the areas of family separation, access to justice and protection from violence, abuse and exploitation.
The detrimental effects of living in a children’s institution for those under three years of age are often irreversible. Yet in Moldova, as a legacy from the Soviet past, many children have been placed in institutions because parents and professionals believe that institutions could provide better care for children who come from difficult circumstances such as single parenthood, poverty or disability. Due to these beliefs little investment has been made in community-based support services for families and vulnerable children, although evidence shows that these services are more effective and less costly. Social inclusion in the community and schools are important preconditions for the proper development of children. Institutionalization should only be a last resort and for the shortest possible duration.
Children with disabilities form a large part of children in institutions. It is still common for families to believe that they are incapable of taking care of children who need special support or protection. As a result, residential institutions are still considered acceptable places for vulnerable children.
Children under the age of three also need special attention because they are especially vulnerable to suffering long-term damage. While abandonment of young children is relatively rare in Moldova, the high level of emigration leads to family separation.