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Council of Europe calls for deinstitutionalisation of children with disabilities

Strasbourg, 04.02.2010 – The Committee of Ministers has just adopted a text recommending that member states no longer place children with disabilities in institutional care and instead give preference to community living.

There are many concerns about the compatibility of institutional care with the exercise of children’s rights. Barring exceptional circumstances, no children should be placed in institutional care. Moreover, institutional provision should be replaced with community-based services within a reasonable timeframe as part of a comprehensive approach.

The Committee of Ministers acknowledges that member states are at very different stages in this area and that deinstitutionalisation is an on-going, long-term process.  The text therefore underlines the importance of safeguarding the rights of children with disabilities and vulnerable young adults in institutional care throughout the transition process.

Mechanisms should be established to involve children with disabilities and their families in the process of service development, as they are vital stakeholders.

The Council of Europe has been active for several years now in defending children’s rights and helping to eradicate violence against all children, including children with disabilities.

It has adopted a ten-year plan for 2006 to 2015 aimed at bringing about a major change in perceptions of people with disabilities and in practices relating to them.  A key aspect is protecting and promoting the rights and dignity of children with disabilities.  In addition, one strand of the Building a Europe for and with Children programme is protecting children against violence.

Several million children and adults with disabilities live in long-term care institutions in the 47 Council of Europe member states.

Link to the full text of the recommendation