European Union and UNICEF help to protect rights of vulnerable children in Ukraine
“Placing a child in any residential institutions should be the last resort, when all possibilities are exhausted for supporting the child in her or his own caring family, or in an alternative family environment.” This was the message from UNICEF Representative in Ukraine Yukie Mokuo, at a meeting of the joint European Union and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) action at Khmelnytsky Oblast State Administration in Ukraine, according to a press release from the EU Delegation to Ukraine.
The meeting took place to evaluate the progress of activities under the Action, ‘Development of Gatekeeping Policies and Systems for Institutionalized and Other Vulnerable Children’, which has been implemented in Ukraine since 2009 as part of the European Union’s strategy aimed to consolidate and protect women’s and children’s rights.
The Action works to protect the rights of institutionalised and vulnerable children and helps to develop related national regulation. It supports children in their own families or in alternative families within Ukraine.
Khmelnytsky Oblast social workers have analysed the situation of about 350 children, and will involve in total 500, helping to place as many as possible from institutions into families. Although 79.9 percent of over 2,400 orphaned children and children deprived of parental care in the Oblast live in guardianship and foster care, there are still 583 orphaned children and children deprived of parental care in short-term and long term residential care.
“The Oblast Administration considers the cooperation with European Union and UNICEF not only as an opportunity to improve alternative family placements of orphaned children and children without parental care, but as an ample resource for prevention of child and family separation in the first instance. I also hope that its implementation serves as a good example of introducing new technologies of preventive social work with families and children at the national level,” underlined First Deputy Head of Khmelnytsky Oblast State Administration Vadym Havryshko.
Until now, the Action has already helped to improve the state programme for in-service training of foster parents and parents of family-type children’s homes, to draft standards of social work for prevention of abandonment of newborn babies and young children, and to develop proposals for improving prevention and response to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect of children. By the end 2011, the Action will analyse costs associated with different forms of care of children in state care, and will help to develop evidence based proposals for improving functional coordination between different government bodies responsible for taking decisions on vulnerable families and children.
In Ukraine, the majority of children deprived of parental care are not biological orphans, but have lost their parents due to social reasons, and therefore the Action emphasises prevention of problems that may lead to the separation of children from their families. (ENPI Info Centre)