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Promoting Community Living (Deinstitutionalisation) of Children with disabilities

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that governments must recognise that all children should grow up in a family environment, in order to be fully prepared to live an individual life in society. However, children with disabilities in particular, continue to experience isolation, stigma and social exclusion because they tend to spend their childhood in specialised institutions, rather than living in the community within their families.

As a follow-up to the Council of Europe Conference “Human Rights – Disability – Children: Towards international instruments for disability rights – the special case of disabled children”, Strasbourg, 8 - 9 November 2004, the Committee on the Rehabilitation and Integration of People with disabilities (CD-P-RR) adopted the terms of reference of a multi-disciplinary ad hoc group of experts on community living (deinstitutionalisation) of children with disabilities (P-RR-CLCD) on 15 April 2006. The Group operates in the framework of the Council of Europe Action Plan to promote the rights and full participation of people with disabilities: improving the quality of life of people with disabilities in Europe 2006 – 2015, and is currently in the process of finalising its draft recommendations and guidelines for the deinstitutionalisation of children with disabilities to promote the policy of community living and to assist families in caring for their disabled children at home.

Deinstitutionalisation is an extremely complex issue and countries are at different stages in cutting the supply line bringing new children with disabilities into institutions, as well as in replacing institutional segregated care with community care providing support to families who want to care for their children at home. Consequently, the Ad Hoc Group is also elaborating guidelines to assist member states that, on a voluntary basis, would want to review their policy, legislation and practice to promote community living and deinstitutionalisation for children with disabilities.

The Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Community Living (deinstitutionalisation) of Children with disabilities (P-RR-CLCD) will finalise its work in September 2006 at a meeting in Sofia hosted by the Bulgarian authorities.

After its final meeting, the Group will submit its report to the CD-P-RR, including a comparative study taking stock of the current situation in Council of Europe member states and a proposal for recommendations and guidelines to promote community living for children with disabilities.