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An additional 52 million children

Were enrolled in primary school globally from 1999 to 2008.

Roundtable on child care reform

Print version
15 March 2013
Press release
3 3 Photos

TASHKENT, 15 March 2013 — Child care reform and de-institutionalization were in focus at a cross-sectoral discussion, convened by the Republican Public Children’s Fund ‘Sen Yolg’iz Emassan’ (‘You Are Not Alone’) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The aim of the roundtable on the theme «Childcare reform and de-institutionalization: international evidence, challenges and prospects» was to exchange knowledge and views on the main elements of strategies to implement reform of state system of care of children left without parental care, including the prevention of child abandonment, services for reintegration and monitoring of the living conditions of children in institutions, consideration of international and national practices and identification of the best approach to carry out child care reform to ensure children’s right to a family.

Representatives of responsible and concerned stakeholder organizations involved in solving issues of deinstitutionalization and development of alternative forms of care took part in the roundtable: members of Parliament, representatives of Ministries of Education, Health, Labour and Social Protection of Population, Economy, Finance, Justice, Prosecutor-General’s Office, Republican Social Adaptation Centre of Children, National Association SOS Children’s Villages-Uzbekistan, National University, specialists of bodies of trusteeship and guardianship and other organizations.

To date, about 2,500 children left without parental care live and are raised in 25 ‘Mehribonlik’ houses, 760 children — in 13 baby homes, 150 children — in two children’s villages, and about 17,000 children — in 88 specialized boarding schools of the country.

For over 10 years, the Republican Public Children’s Fund ‘Sen Yolg’iz Emassan’ has been actively involved in the development of state policy in the field of social protection of orphans and children with disabilities. The fund’s work aims to provide comprehensive assistance on improving the lives of children left without parental care and supporting family education. Upon the Fund’s initiative, amendments to regulations «On Adoption of Minor Children» and «Adoption of Children in Foster Care (Patronage)» were made. Important work is being carried out by the Fund on de-institutionalization and prevention of children’s placement in institutions, as well as on supporting alternative family-type forms of care for orphans and children left without parental care. Since the best environment for living and development of the child is still a family.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes the importance of the family and emphasizes the State’s responsibility in supporting the family in its child-rearing duties and to ensure the development of institutions, facilities and services for the care of children.

Overwhelming evidence shows that children raised outside the family or a family type environment are at a higher risk of becoming vulnerable and being affected in terms of emotional, behavioural and learning development. They are more likely to experience health problems, have poor educational achievements and as a consequence, face unemployment and poverty. According to UNICEF’s regional situation analysis on children under three in formal care in countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, young children in institutions are particularly vulnerable compared to older children and are three to six times more likely to be abandoned, especially those with disabilities.

Therefore, every effort should be made to ensure that children remain with their families and are not placed in institutions unless it is an action of last resort and is in the best interest of the child.

The roundtable meeting is taking place at a strategic time when the Government of Uzbekistan has initiated a number of steps towards child care reform and is currently preparing upon the initiative of the Republican Public Children’s Fund ‘Sen Yolg’iz Emassan’ a state programme for a phased de-institutionalization of orphans and children left without parental care for implementation in 2013–2015 and prevention of placement of young children in specialized institutions. Results of inter-agency cooperation on the issue of de-institutionalization will contribute to addressing effectively the problems of the trusteeship system as well as to the phased implementation of de-institutionalization in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan has also joined a Call to Action, a regional initiative led by the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNICEF that was launched at a ministerial conference in Bulgaria in November last year. The initiative aims to end placing children under the age of three years in institutions in countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia and calls on governments to accelerate support to vulnerable families to prevent separation of children.

In this context, UNICEF supports the Government and other national partners to develop policies, appropriate family-based responses and services to help vulnerable families stay together, protect children without parental care and reunite children already in care with their families or find them suitable alternative forms of family-type care. UNICEF is also bringing international technical expertise to conduct a comparative cost analysis of institutional and family oriented care. The findings of the study will help identify actions to improve child protection services in the country.

Indeed, the family has always been a major component of society, representing a public value and being an important social institution that ensures the reproduction of society. The family, its wealth and prosperity has always held a special place in the lives of the Uzbek people.

«We all know well that every person in this world, regardless of his or her nationality, religion and language, is born for happiness. Many factors and conditions help achieving this highest goal. But among them, there is one factor that makes our life more bright and cheerful. It is the well-being of a family, prosperity at home and throughout the country, which makes human life bright and happy," emphasizes Islam Karimov, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

State agencies, public organizations, the society at large and above all, everyone should focus their efforts towards ensuring the best interests of the child to make the life of every child safe and happy.

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