At Lumos we believe that children and young people should be at the heart of any discussion around alternative care. They’re the experts, and they have the most at stake.
That’s why we are supporting The Day of General Discussion on Children’s Rights and Alternative Care in Geneva, held online this 16-17 September 2021, to bring the issue of children deprived of family care to a global platform, and to amplify the voices of young people around the world.
An estimated 5.4 million children live in institutions worldwide, denied the right to a family life. That means millions of young people do not have the safety, stability and individual care that every child needs.
This has devastating and lasting consequences.
The Day of General Discussion (DGD) is a public meeting hosted by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and attended by representatives from governments, non-governmental organisations, human rights institutions, specialised agencies and individual experts, as well as by children themselves. Together, we’ll be exploring alternative care from all angles including progress, best practice and areas of concern. Through global co-operation and listening to those with most at stake, we can transform care systems for the better and make sure that every child has a safe and loving home.
Lumos’ role ahead of the DGD
Lumos has played a key role in co-ordinating and working with the Committee on the Rights of the Child and with civil society partners, and particularly in making sure that child and youth participation has remained at the core of this event. Since March 2020, Lumos has led on supporting and working with a group of children called the ‘children’s and young people’s advisory team’ to contribute to all areas of the DGD.
We have also worked with civil society partners, researchers and the young people in these advisory teams to develop a global survey which was completed by 1,188 children. Their views, ideas and experiences have been captured in a report that shows that collective action is urgently needed to improve the lives of children in alternative care and of those who are at risk of family separation. This report (available in easy-read and child-friendly versions) marks the beginning of an important conversation in which children must continue to play a central part.
In our written submission ahead of the event, we made key recommendations to help drive progress and ensure children’s rights are protected when they are in or are at risk of entering alternative care. These include prioritising prevention, investing in high-quality alternative care, driving for comprehensive care reform, strengthening systems within COVID-19 recovery programmes, listening to lived experience, collecting data and promoting links between care reform and the wider international development sector.
We’ve also supported and contributed to regional consultations in the Latin America and Caribbean region and in Africa. As part of The Africa Working Group on Children Without Parental Care, we contributed to a consultation paper on transforming care systems in Africa, and together with other key organisations we’re calling for increased advocacy, capacity building, partnerships, investments, and data to drive this transformation.
Our role at the DGD
The event should be driven by the voices of children and young people. So we’re supporting Nicoleta, a self-advocate from Moldova, to speak at the event. Nicoleta will be one of many young people who will be sharing their experiences with decision-makers from across the world to help them understand what needs to be done to help children grow up in safe and loving environments where they can thrive.
In addition to hearing from the children themselves, specialists will also be sharing their expertise. Lumos’ country director in Bulgaria, Bisser Spirov, will be speaking at the event about how we should work to strengthen families and communities to prevent separation, and what lessons we can learn from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DGD is a crucial opportunity for the global community to interrogate key concerns within care systems, and push for the development of nurturing environments that protect and support children and young people across the world.
Senior Advocacy and Campaigns Officer Caroline Rose said:
“It has been a truly rewarding experience to work together with all of our partners globally on the Day of General Discussion. The highlight for me has been working directly with the children and young people’s advisory team and colleagues from all around the world to help shape this process and make this the most inclusive Day of General Discussion yet!
The next steps are also really important. We need to continue to work together as an international community to make sure that all stakeholders have the tools, knowledge and willpower needed to make real change in the care system, and make sure that all children enjoy the right to grow up in a loving family where they can thrive.”
Please contact Bea Crayford, Beatrice.firstname.lastname@example.org.