Department of Social Welfare and UNICEF Jointly Launches Report on The Situation of Children in Residential Care Facilities in Myanmar
His Excellency U Aung Kyi, in his opening remarks, spoke of his belief, “This assessment will indeed strengthen care for children in residential facilities” and noted the necessity to “issue the Minimum Standards of Care and Protection for Children in Residential Facilities as an official directive, and to disseminate to all residential care facilities and Training Schools, in order to improve the current situation.” Furthermore, he emphasised the “need to have a strengthened monitoring mechanism to ensure implementation of the Standards.”
“I am grateful for the opportunity this provides for UNICEF and the Department of Social Welfare to come together with so many representatives of other government departments, non-governmental Organisations, and residential care facilities, as well as children and young people as we learn about the findings of this report, and discuss how – together - we can identify ways to improve the situation of children without parental care, and in particular of children in residential care facilities,” said Ms. Anupama Rao Singh, UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and Pacific Region.
During the course of the day, key speakers including U Aung Tun Khaing, Deputy-Director-General, Department of Social Welfare, and Ms. Diane Swales, UNICEF Regional Child Protection Advisor for East Asia and Pacific Region, presented findings from the report, and discussed in depth the effects of institutional care on children.
The report was the result of an assessment on 147 residential care facilities throughout Myanmar, including both public and private, and registered and unregistered. The research highlighted many concerns regarding the protection, safety, health, and wellbeing of children in residential care facilities, and showed discrepancies between the provisions laid out in the Minimum Standards of Care and Protection for Children in Residential Care Facilities and the reality in practice.
Some deeply concerning findings reveal, nearly three-quarters of children living in residential care facilities have one or both parents alive – and nearly ninety per cent of these children are to be found in private institutions. Over half of all children are brought to the facilities by their parents or relatives – the very people who are responsible to care for them.
Such practices are not in line with the United Nations Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, which state that the removal of a child from the care of the family should be seen as a measure of last resort and should, whenever possible, be temporary; for the shortest possible duration and take into account the views and best interest of the child.
Ms. Swales illustrated the emotional impact of neglect on children, which is common in typical residential care facilities where staff are unable to provide the emotional connectedness or nurturing that comes naturally in family environment and influence a child’s brain development. Considering the multiple consequences of maltreatment on physical, mental and social development of a child, the UNICEF Regional Advisor reiterated why residential care should be the last resort for child rearing. The
Department of Social Welfare expressed its commitment to work toward improving the situation for children in residential care facilities in Myanmar, and UNICEF offered its support to the Department of Social Welfare, and all concerned parties, in this important field of work.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For more information, please contact:
Zafrin Chowdhury, Chief of Communication and Information Section,
Ye Lwin Oo, Communication Officer, UNICEF Myanmar,