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Government made a pledge that no child under 3 is placed in large scale institutions by 2020

SKOPJE, 16 November 2017 –  Today, at a conference “Every Child Needs a Family”, under the leadership of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the government pledged to bring an end to the placement of children under 3 in large scale institutions, by 2020.

Currently in the country, some 250 children, of which 70 are under the age of 3, are missing out on their right to live in a family like environment. The “Every Child Needs a Family” Conference was organised by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy together with UNICEF and brought together some 350 participants to discuss ways to speed up the reform to end unnecessary placement of children in large scale institutional care.

Ms. Mila Carovska, Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Mr. Samuel Zbogar, Head of the Delegation of the European Union, and Mr. Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Representative opened the event, giving focus to the broader de-institutionalisation reform designed to transform institutions and staff to support family-based care alternatives.

"Institutions are not effective for the development and care of children. We will close today’s conference with a public commitment to remain dedicated to this reform and that we will create the conditions so that by 2020, no child from 0-3 years is placed in institutions. Because every child matters and because every child needs to grow with warmth, love and care of another human being," said Ms. Carovska.

“We understand very well that placing a child in an institution has an immediate and detrimental effect on the child’s development,” said Mr. Zbogar. “The European Guidelines on the Transition from Institution to Community-based points out that ‘when it comes to very young children, even a short intuitional placement can negatively affect brain development and have life-long consequences on emotional well-being”

“We need to do three urgent things, first we need to work with the health system and social work services to prevent abandonment at source, second we need to improve and expand foster and adoptive family placements. Thirdly, for children who cannot be kept in the biological family or fostered or adopted -we need to establish small group homes which-to the extent possible replicate a family life,” said Mr. Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Representative

During the conference, international expert Prof. Kevin Browne from the University of Nottingham, UK and UNICEF Representative, Mr. Perks delivered key note presentations on the effects of institutional care on early child development based on global developments in neuroscience, psychology and paediatrics.

Panellists from Slovenia, Montenegro, Serbia and Georgia - countries who have successfully established sustainable community based alternatives - shared practical lessons from the region. These include efforts to prevent abandonment, establishing innovative community based services and alternative solutions for children with special attention to the needs of children with disabilities, and the resources need to sustain reforms.

Recognising the country has a solid base to ensure the pledge becomes a reality by 2020, a panel of local stakeholders shared their perspectives on existing services and support in the country.

Guided by the principle that "Every child matters", the Government pledge includes a commitment to ensure every child in the country grows up in a safe and caring family environment by investing in prevention of abandonments and support to biological families; developing new forms of foster care and expanding the network of foster families; investment in improving the quality of alternative care through standardisation; investment in early detection and intervention of development difficulties, and investing in children themselves by increasing investment in preschool education and early childhood development.



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