Family for every child: the Government of Ukraine and UNICEF join efforts to help as many children as possible find a family

01 June 2023
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UNICEF

Kyiv, 1 June 2023: The Office of the Ombudsman of Ukraine, the Ministry of Social Policy, together with the President's Office, and with support from UNICEF, are committed to seeing more children growing up in a family environment and receive the love, protection, and care that they deserve. Together we are initiating Better Care. A national program anchored in evidence-based interventions that focus on strengthening families, communities, and the care system to ensure that safe and nurturing care within families is a reality for all children, including those with disabilities and other vulnerabilities. Better Care is anchored in the vision that every child grows up in a safe and nurturing family. This includes ensuring that the most vulnerable can access their rights to housing, family-care, protection, health, and inclusive education.

All children in Ukraine have faced significant trauma over the past 16 months. Children have been forced to move away from their homes and communities. Many are studying online away from familiar classrooms and classmates. They have seen, heard and felt the effects of this war daily. Tragically, many have experienced, or risk, the loss of family care, including those orphaned by the war. At the same time many Ukrainians are stepping up their efforts and opening their homes to children in need of family care, proving with their own example the years of the evidence that show that children raised in safe and nurturing families have better physical, intellectual, and socioemotional outcomes compared to children living in institutions.

The day dedicated to protecting children is also seeing a National high-level conference, organized by the partners “Family for Every Child,” with the participation of the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, representatives of the Office of the Ukraine’s Commissioner for Human Rights, the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, and the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, and UNICEF. Over 100 foster families from all over Ukraine were supposed to actively participate in the event, however, this component was shortened for safety reasons and transferred to online. Continuing the work of the forum local and national authorities, NGOs, and child rights experts held consultations to identify key issues to be addressed to ensure more children in need find families to care for them, and to help local authorities and communities create a favorable community for families to thrive. The resulting conference manifesto will outline the key components and milestones required for the transformation of Ukraine’s childcare system, to ensure every child in need of a family is able to find one.

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UNICEF

“As UNICEF, we share the vision of the Government of Ukraine where there is a family for every child. As partners, we are embarking on an ambitious programme of Better Care that focuses on strengthening families, communities, and the care system, ensuring safe and nurturing environments for every child, including those with disabilities and vulnerabilities,” said UNICEF Representative in Ukraine, Murat Sahin. “We believe that Better Care can transform the way Ukraine cares for children and ensure that children remain at the center of recovery of Ukraine.”

“Children suffer from the war the most. They are most dependent – they depend on adults, circumstances. It is through their example that I see the abnormality and inhumanity of this attack. Children should not lose families and be orphaned. Today we have with us the people who counter orphanhood – family-type caregivers. Thank you. You are heroes. It is our goal to make sure that every child who lost a family meets heroes like you. We never thought that in the modern world our children would have to fight for survival. But we will do everything to make sure they survive and believe in themselves and the world around them. So that they win. They are Ukraine.” stated first lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska.

“Every child should grow up in a family: in love, care and safety. Unfortunately, war dictates horrible realities and many children have lost their relatives and loved ones. We cannot stay away from these problems and leave the children on their own. Our and our partners’ task is to do our best to support families, communities and the care system as a whole. We need to provide care for children with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, ensure their rights for social protection, housing, family care, healthcare and inclusive education. I hope that this partnership will bring tangible results for children, their caregivers, and the communities. And the results achieved will allow every child to receive protection and care, and most importantly – a family. And we will support and promote this!” noted Ombudsman.

The Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine Oksana Zholnovych noted that the task of the ministry is to establish the necessary infrastructure, ensuring physical and social development of the children in families or in family-based alternative care. To fulfil its task the ministry is gathering the world’s best practices to develop modern and effective social support services for families.

“The best that we can do for our children is to ensure their development in the family. Therefore, we plan to develop our social services, so that the family receives the necessary support at each stage of the child’s development and life. They will include a social worker at perinatal centres, and necessary cash assistance (financial assistance at birth or baby box), and early childhood development services. They include other services like daycare; vacation for parents with children with disabilities; personal assistant for inclusive education and others. There are also new services that we work on – centres of sustainability. This network of facilities will help parents and children receive the care and services they require at a certain stage of their lives.” noted Oksana Zholnovych.

According to her, a systemic reform is being developed to prevent institualization of the children and prioritize family-based alternative care. “We want to take into account and protect the interest of every child, no matter where they are.” Zholnovych summarized.

Media contacts

Damian Rance
Chief Advocacy and Communications
UNICEF Ukraine

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