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UNICEF Call to Action: End Placing Children under Three in Institutions
TASHKENT, 8 November 2012 – In the presence of senior Government representatives, Parliamentarians, NGOs and civil society organisations working for children, academic institutions and members of the mass media UNICEF Uzbekistan joined a Call to Action to end placing children under the age of three years in institutions in countries of Europe and Central Asia.
The Call to Action was given by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UNICEF at a meeting in the European Parliament in Brussels last year after the launch of their joint report At Home or In a Home. This report alerts Governments and policy-makers to the irreversible loss of development potential faced by children between the ages 0 - 3 years if placed in institutions.
The report also highlights special vulnerabilities of young children in residential care compared to older children and makes a strong case for finding them family-type or foster care instead. The number of children in government-run care institutions in the region is around 600,000, estimated to be the highest in the world.
On the launch of Call to Action here, UNICEF’s Geneva-based Regional Child Protection Advisor Jean Claude Legrand made a presentation on Child Care Systems Reforms in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, focusing on children below three years. “Placement in institutional care of children below three years of age must be restricted to a short-term emergency measure or a planned stay not exceeding six months, when it is absolutely necessary and in the best interest of the child,” he emphasized.
The Call to Action for not placing children under the age of 3 in institutions is a CEECIS time-bound initiative based on the rights of all children particularly the most vulnerable, to survival, development, protection and participation as included in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention was ratified by Uzbekistan in 1994 and subsequently adopted into national legislation.
The core five interventions the Call to Action recommends are:
- Legislative changes limiting to last resort, and setting strict conditions for, the placement into institutional care of children below three years;
- Allocation of resources giving priority to the development of appropriate local services allowing alternative solutions for children below three with special attention to the needs of children with disabilities;
- Proper budget allocation for supporting vulnerable families through the development of appropriate family-based responses and services;
- Capacity-building and standards of practice for maternity ward and paediatric hospital staff to support parents of new-borns with a disability and parents from most vulnerable groups, in order to discourage institutionalisation;
- Partnership with media and civil society to promote social inclusion of children deprived of parental care and children with disabilities.
“2012 has been declared Year of the Strong Family in Uzbekistan. It is the best time for all of us to identify and support initiatives that help families stay together by increasing their access to social services. One effective way of doing it is for the Government to invest in building stronger social protection systems that reach the most vulnerable families and most disadvantaged communities," said Jean-Michel Delmotte, UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan.
For more information, please contact:
Christine Gale, Chief of Child Protection
+998 71 2339512 (office)
+998 93 1848005 (mobile)
Savita Varde-Naqvi, Chief of Communication
+998 71 2339512 (office)
+998 93 5500135 (mobile)