UNICEF urges the Government of Ukraine to continue with the Deinstitutionalization Reform in line with the approved National Strategy
UNICEF is deeply concerned about the proposed amendments to the National Strategy to the Reform of the Institutional Child Care System in Ukraine. We believe that the proposed amendments introduced in the draft Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine could endanger the ongoing Deinstitutionalization Reform (DI) and limit the rights of thousands of children.
Ukraine already has one of the highest rates of children in residential care institutions in the world, and the highest rate in Europe. In its recent recommendations for Ukraine, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child reiterated the criticality of urgent implementation of comprehensive DI reform. It is unfortunate that a large number of Ukrainian children continue to grow up separated from their families for reasons such as poverty, disability, abuse or neglect, as well as lack of access to quality special or inclusive education, or limited access to health, social and other family-support services in their communities.
The proposed amendments to the DI Reform are endangering the promotion and implementation of the Best Interests of the Child as they may result in:
- further potential harm caused by institutionalization and institutional care to children’s growth and development, especially to children of a younger age;
- depriving many children from vulnerable families and children with disabilities of their right to grow up in a loving and caring family environment or to have a chance for family reunification (unless it is not in the best interests of the child), as well as inclusion in their communities and the society;
- further continuation of discrimination and exclusion on the basis of vulnerability, special educational needs or disability.
UNICEF would like to reiterate that no child or family should be forced to give up family connections in order to escape poverty, or to receive care, comprehensive, timely and quality health services or education (special or inclusive).
“Every child has the right to a family and to social inclusion, without that the child’s development and future is at risk. Placing children in institutions robs them of the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential - especially when they live with vulnerabilities or a disability. The best solution should always be for a child to grow up in a family, that is supportive, loving and encouraging - and it is the government's obligation to support families to enable them to care for their children." says Lotta Sylwander, Representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Ukraine.
UNICEF calls on the Government of Ukraine to continue the Deinstitutionalization Reform in line with the National Strategy and the approved Action Plan aligned to the international standards, and to continue developing community-based social services, inclusive education and alternative family care, in order to prevent the placement of children in all kinds of institutions, including baby homes and boarding schools.
UNICEF is committed to continuing its support to the Government so that every child can be raised in a family or family-like environment.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.