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World's NGOs including Lumos join in push to include all children in UN SDGs


World's NGOs including Lumos join in push to include all children in UN SDGs

Over 175 children’s and disabilities rights organisations and academics from across the world have intensified demands on the UN to ensure that children living outside families are counted as part of its global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In a joint letter to UN statistical bodies meeting in Mexico this week, they argue it is vital to ensure that the framework for monitoring the implementation of the SDGs captures “children living outside of households and/or without parental care”.

The signatories include not only Lumos, the non-profit organisation founded by J.K. Rowling, but NGOs from around the world, with a significant number in Latin America, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The aim of the letter is to ensure that the framework that will monitor the implementation of the SDGs captures “children living outside of households and/or without parental care”. This includes millions of children in institutions and orphanages.

NGOs believe some of the world most vulnerable children have “fallen off the statistical map” and will be left behind by global development. Estimates suggest that at least eight million live in institutions and orphanages, the vast majority of whom are not orphans. Signatories include Better Care Network, Child Fund Alliance, Columbia Group for Children in Adversity, Global Alliance for Children, Hope & Homes for Children, Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages, International Foster Care Organisation (IFCO), Child Rights Coalition Asia and Defence for Children International.

Sir Roger Singleton, Lumos Managing Director, said: “Children living outside families are some of the most disadvantaged in the world. We know from eighty years of research that being raised in large impersonal institutions and orphanages harms the development of children. However well-meaning, staff cannot replace the close, loving engagement of parents and a family. The existing data gap means many of these very vulnerable children are effectively invisible. It is only by understanding the true global picture that we can ensure they are not left behind and can benefit from global development.”

The SDGs, which were adopted by the United Nations last September, will guide the spending of billions of dollars in international assistance over the next 15 years. The goals have been set, with an accompanying global monitoring framework to measure progress and success. The SDG Global Indicator Framework was adopted at the 47th session of the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC) in New York on 11 March this year. There is yet to be seen a concrete change to the system and methodologies that will ensure that children outside households/without family care will be counted. However, a welcome development is the intention to establish a new United Nations Working Group on Disaggregated Data. Lumos is supportive of this initiative and calls on the group to develop ‘Care Status’ as a disaggregated data category.

The letter to the UN’s statistics experts, who are meeting in Mexico this week, states: “All children count, but not all children are counted. As a result, some of the world’s most vulnerable children – those without parental care or at risk of being so; in institutions or on the street; trafficked; separated from their families as a result of conflict or disaster; or recruited into armed groups – have largely fallen off the UN’s statistical map. There is only limited data about how many children live in such precarious circumstances, except for scattered estimates from some specific countries.”

It calls on the UN to “ensure that children living outside households and/or without parental care are represented in disaggregated data” and to “improve and expand data collection methodologies to ensure all children are represented.”