Children's Rights and Alternative Care
Council of Europe's contribution to the UNCRC Day of General Discussion 2021
All children should live in a supportive, protective and caring environment that helps them develop their full potential. When a child’s own family is unable, even with support, to provide adequate care for the child, the state is responsible for ensuring appropriate alternative care. An estimated 1.5 million children in the Council of Europe member states live in some form of alternative care. Children living in alternative care may be more at risk of having their human rights violated. If they are isolated from their families and communities, they may lack suitable care for their individual needs, suffer from unstable relationships and be at higher risk of falling victims to violence and abuse.
On 1 June 2021, the Council of Europe Committee for the Rights of the Child (CDENF) held an online Regional Discussion on Children’s Rights and Alternative Care to contribute to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Day of General Discussion (DGD) on this theme.The event was organised under the auspices of the Hungarian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers.
This Regional Discussion represented an excellent opportunity to examine the current situation regarding alternative care in its complexity, discuss particular areas of concern with regard to the unnecessary separation of children from their families, and to identify appropriate ways to respond to family and child separation in cases where it is unavoidable.
National delegations, participants and observers of the CDENF, the Lanzarote Committee and members of the Committee of Experts on the Rights and the Best Interests of the Child in Parental Separation and in Care Proceedings (CJ/ENF-ISE), as well as other experts and stakeholder representativeshad a fruitful exchange on how best to address some of the main challenges states are facing, taking into account examples of good practices and relevant standards. The final report represents the Council of Europe's contribution to the UNCRC Day of General Discussion and will also inform any Council of Europe work in this area.
Moderated by Maria-Andriani Kostopoulou, Chair of CDENF, speakers included:
- Elda Moreno, Head of the Council of Europe Children’s Rights and Sport Values Department
- István Kovács, Deputy Secretary of State for International and EU Affairs, Hungary
- Bragi Guðbrandsson, Member of the UNCRC
- Ksenija Turković, Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights
- Seamus Carroll, Chair of CJ/ENF-ISE
- Maeve O’Rourke, Lecturer in Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway
- Dainius Pūras, former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health and former CRC Committee member
- George Nikolaidis, former Chair and member of the Lanzarote Committee
- Regína Jensdóttir, Head of the Children’s Rights Division and Council of Europe Coordinator for the Rights of the Child.
- United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
- United Nations Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children
- European Convention on Human Rights
- Children and alternative care, Council of Europe dedicated webpage
- Convention on the Protection of Children against Child Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Convention)
- Council of Europe Recommendation Rec(2005)5 on the rights of children living in residential institutions
- Council of Europe Recommendation Rec(2006)19 on policy to support positive parenting
- Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)2 on deinstitutionalisation and community living of children with disabilities
- Council of Europe Recommendation Rec(2011)12 on children’s rights and social services friendly to children and families
- Children and young people in care – Discover your rights!, a Council of Europe booklet addressed to children and young people in alternative care
- Securing Children’s rights – A guide for professionals working in alternative care, provides guidance and tools for professionals that work with children in care
- Declaration of the Lanzarote Committee on protecting children in out-of-home care from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse
- The Hague Conference on Private International Law - Practical Handbook on the Operation of the 1996 Child Protection Convention