20 November 2019
KEY MESSAGES ON ALTERNATIVE CARE FOR CHILDREN
ONGOING CONCERNS (PREVENTION)
1) In accordance with the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, welcomed 10 years ago today by the UN General Assembly, States and any other responsible entities must make far greater efforts to ensure, in particular, that placements in alternative care are not carried out solely for reasons of family poverty or factors directly attributable to it. Often lacking so far is a fully-integrated child protection system grounded in a coordinated approach among the various services responsible for working with the family to address its needs. Establishing such a system is necessary to deliver effective responses that avoid wherever possible the perceived need for family separation, but that also can foresee appropriate alternative care when necessary.
2) More attention also has to be paid to targeted support that will enable other vulnerable families to remain together – or to be reunited if separation has already taken place. They include: those caring for children with disabilities (or where the parents themselves have a disability); children of indigenous and/or minority communities; families fleeing armed conflicts or other dangers; and children moving across borders.
POINTERS FOR THE FUTURE (PREPARATION & PARTICIPATION)
1) Children with experience of care emphasize the need to expand various forms of support for suitable kinship care responses when children are unable to live with their parents. The development and promotion of other forms of family-based and family-like alternative care provision should continue to be prioritized. At the same time, national strategies and processes for the deinstitutionalization of alternative care systems must avoid demonizing residential care providers and should contrive to secure the adherence (or buy-in) of directors and staff of institutional facilities.
2) The circumstances, outcomes and impacts of alternative care provision in different settings should be the subject of rigorous studies. Findings, incorporating the results of a participatory process with children and young people concerned, should inform policy and practice regarding, inter alia, the importance to be given to the child’s wishes when alternative care is envisaged as well as to preparation and follow-up for children leaving the care system. Appropriate investment, including in enhanced skills of professionals, will bring positive long-term returns.
All the above should be among the main issues to be examined further at the Day of General Discussion on alternative care for children being held by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2020.