Every child has the right to grow up in a safe and nurturing family environment

Co-creating a roadmap to prevent family separation and strengthen support service

19 November 2021
National Conference on Alternative Care: All Children Belong in Safe and Nurturing Families Poster
UNICEF Thailand

BANGKOK, 19 November 2021: Every child in Thailand has the right to grow up in a safe and nurturing family environment and be cared for by their families wherever possible. To mark World Children’s Day on 20 November, “National Conference on Alternative Care: All Children Belong in Safe and Nurturing Families” is being organized today and tomorrow by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, CRC Coalition Thailand, CRC Alternative Care Thailand and UNICEF

Discussions at the conference will centre on reforming national laws and policies to support families and prevent family separation wherever possible. Participants will also discuss steps to ensure alternative care is only a last resort for children who cannot stay with their parents, that it is as family-based as possible and how to guarantee that the most vulnerable children access basic and family-based care services. 

Growing up in a loving and caring family is critical for children’s social, emotional and intellectual stimulation and healthy brain development. According to the 2019 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey by the National Statistical Office and UNICEF, the percentage of children living apart from their parents in Thailand has risen from 18 per cent in 2005 to 22 per cent in 2019, raising concerns about children lacking parental care and support for their growth. 

A group of children and youth representatives from all over Thailand who experienced different forms of care voiced their needs and solutions at a pre-session on November 6-7, including promoting access to basic services such as education, health, nutrition and early childhood development, as well as protection from violence at home so that no child is placed in alternative care because their family cannot care for them. They also called for the need for children already in care to be able to stay in contact with their families and reintegrate back into their families if possible.

“As the child and youth representatives have told us in their own powerful words, the family is a natural environment for their well-being and protection. We must make every effort to keep children under family or family-based care by connecting vulnerable families to basic services and connecting children already in care to their families,” said Mrs Kyungsun Kim, UNICEF Representative for Thailand. “Children’s well-being and protection must be a primary consideration in all policies and decisions on childcare, which is why it is important to hear from them on their actual needs.” 

“The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security aims to support every child to grow up in a safe and nurturing family environment. To ensure children grow up healthy and happy, they must be provided with love, care and emotional security from their parents or guardians, which will reflect in their emotional and intellectual stimulation and brain development,” said Mrs Jatuporn Rojanaparnich, Director General of the Department of Children and Youth of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, adding that this mission is in line with the 2017-2021 National Child Protection Strategy.

Deprivation of parental care through family separation and unsuitable alternative care, particularly in institutions, can cause physical, psychological, emotional and social harm to a child, with lifelong impacts. Children may experience forced cohabitation and fixed routines not tailored to their individual needs. They can also be deprived of the ability to make choices that suit their best interests. 

The social workforce in Thailand is significantly limited, with only four social workers for every 100,000 people. To help keep children in their families and prevent unnecessary separation, UNICEF recommends an urgent investment in family-support services at community level and strengthening social workforce.

The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security and UNICEF are working together to develop a National Alternative Care Roadmap to improve family support services and promote family-based alternative care such as kinship and foster care over institutional care. The results of the discussions at this conference will be integrated into the roadmap and jointly implemented with various stakeholders to ensure that children’s rights to family is fulfilled and their best interests considered in childcare.

Media contacts

Iman Morooka
Chief of Communication
UNICEF Thailand
Tel: 061-414-6488
Sirinya Wattanasukchai
UNICEF Thailand

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UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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