Millions of children around the world live in institutions – including so-called “orphanages”, residential special schools and reception centres – that expose them to a catalogue of human rights abuses and enhanced risk of violence, and which cannot meet their needs.
Institutional settings are a breach of human rights enshrined in a number of international policy and legal instruments. This includes the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which all Member States are parties. In the case of the UNCRPD, the EU itself is a party. Moreover, the EU has committed to the transition from institutional to family- and community-based care (also known as deinstitutionalisation) in several policy initiatives and funding instruments.
The upcoming EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child that the European Commission intends to publish in 2021 presents a unique opportunity to further mainstream children’s rights, and more specifically to strongly reaffirm the EU’s commitment to the transition from institutional to family- and community-based care for children across its internal and external policies and instruments.
In order to effectively protect the rights of all children and implement the 2019 UN Resolution on the Rights of the Child, the vulnerable and often invisible group of children living in institutions or at risk of being institutionalised must not be forgotten in the strategy.
This paper contains joint recommendations with Hope and Homes for Children and 24 other endorsing organisations on how to include children’s right to family and community based care in the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child.