"My House": A New Support System to Combat Child Labour in Turkey

Child labour prevents children of all ages from going to school, takes them away from their families, and limits their time for play and recreation.

Çocuk işçiliği hangi yaşata olursa olsun çocukların okula gitmelerini engellemekte, onları ailelerinden ayırmakta, oyun ve eğlence-dinlenme zamanlarını sınırlamaktadır.
18 December 2018

Child labour, especially in its worst forms, harms the mental, social, physical and psychological development of children.

Turkey has made tremendous progress on reducing the number of children engaged in labour since the early 1990s. However, an estimated 900,000 Turkish children remain engaged in child labour, of whom about 45% work in seasonal agriculture. The statistics also reveal that almost 50 % of these children do not attend school. With the Syrian conflict now in its 8th year, an increasing number of refugee children in Turkey are also engaged in child labour.

“My House” Child Support Centre was opened in April 2018, as a result of the successful collaboration between UNICEF and İzmit Municipality and with the generous contribution from the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) of the US State Department. The Centre functions as a platform providing psychosocial support services for children at risk of labour and offering referral pathways for these children and their families to the relevant local services provided by different ministries. This coordination is done through cooperation between the Izmit Municipality and the Provincial Directorate of Family, Labour and Social Services.

Five years ago, Ahmed* and his family were forced to flee their home in Syria due to the ongoing conflict. Today Ahmed is 13 years old and lives with his two younger sisters and parents in Izmit, Northwest Turkey. Due to his family’s extreme poverty, Ahmed and his two younger sisters couldn’t continue their education and had to sell paper tissues on the streets. Ahmed was identified by a mobile team  composed of trained municipal police which are assigned by the Izmit municipality to work for “My House” Child Support Centre. Similar to other cases, once Ahmed was identified he was accompanied by the municipality police to the child support centre, where a case worker assessed his situation and recommended a follow up visit to his family. Accordingly, staff from the Provincial Directorate of Family, Labour and Social Services, visited Ahmed’s family  and explained to them the risks and implications of having his children engaged in child labour. Ahmed’s father agreed to bring his three children to “My House” Child Support Centre to receive psycho-social support services, and at same Ahmed and his two sisters were referred to the provincial directorate of Ministry of National Education to be enrolled in school.

“I want my children to be educated and I want them to come to this centre regularly,” Ahmed’s Father said. Now, Ahmed is benefiting from child protection measures, and is able to continue his education along with his two younger sisters.

The “My House” child support centre team consists of two full time social workers, one part time psychologist and eight instructors who joined the center after successfull completion of the child labour training of UNICEF. Using a proactive approach to identify potential vulnerable children, a mobile team composed of nine municipal police officers are assigned to work with the centre to identify and refer children.

"Benim Evim": Türkiye'de Çocuk İşçiliğiyle Mücadelede Yeni bir Destek Sistemi

Once a child is identified by the mobile teams and arrives to the centre, case management services are provided and social workers visit the child’s family to identify the underlying reasons for this case and develop a case plan for referral while, children benefit from psycho-social services and leisure activities including drama, handcrafts and music courses as well as take part in sports activities in the centre.

Since the beginning of this partnership between UNICEF and Izmit Municipality more than 300 children at risk were identified and many of them provided with the needed assistance.

UNICEF collaborates with local governments to develop their technical capacity for evidence-based policy and program making to realize child rights at the local level and enable children benefit from increased fiscal space and more efficient programs at the local level. Centres like “My House” are the part of UNICEF’s multi-sectoral approach, supporting Turkish Government’s programmes, to eliminate child labour in Turkey.  This multi-sectoral approach includes:  (i) strengthening social protection mechanisms and supporting access to livelihoods (ii)targeting social norms normalizing child labour by highlighting the role of education; (iii) promoting child rights and business principles in private sector; (iv) providing support to increase access to education and social services. 

"Benim Evim": Türkiye'de Çocuk İşçiliğiyle Mücadelede Yeni bir Destek Sistemi