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Every Child Needs a Family

Skopje, 12 December 2007 – At a press conference the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Norwegian Embassy launched a new media campaign to support the process of deinstitutionalization of children deprived of parental care.

“Every child has the right to grow up in a family. No matter how good an institution is, it can never be better than a caring family. A family provides the natural environment within which a child can develop to his or her full potential” said Ms. Hongwei Gao, UNICEF Country Representative. “There is no reason why a child should be placed in an institution. This is unacceptable because services are available to support families who find it difficult to maintain a caring environment and community based alternatives also exist.”

The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy announced that a new National Child Care Strategy for De-institutionalization is currently being finalized. The strategy outlines the Government’s commitment to develop standards of care to protect children from all forms of abuse, neglect and exploitation while in the care of their parents, legal guardians, foster parents or public institutions.

In parallel to the finalization of the strategy, family and community based services as an alternative to placement in institutions have been strengthened. A small group home which will be operational in January 2008 in Berovo will provide care in a community based home environment for five to eight children. This alternative form of care will serve as a model for ensuring children deprived of parental care grow up in a family environment.

Notes to the Editor:

Since 2000 UNICEF has been actively involved in the process of de-institutionalization working closely with the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and other international and national partners. UNICEF has so far helped the process through capacity building of social workers and other experts working with children in institutions or at risk of institutionalization; establishment of day care centers and small group homes; provision of equipment and training for staff and support to strengthen the foster system.

The media campaign is a joint effort between the Ministry of Social Policy and UNICEF with financial assistance from the Norwegian Government and UNICEF Skopje Office.

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