Governments Now Have an Opportunity to Stop Supporting the Unnecessary Separation of Children from Parents

Save The Children Welcomes UN General Assembly Adopting Rights of the Child Resolution Focused on Children Without Parental Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 18, 2019) – A resolution that passed today at the UN gives governments all over the world a chance to end the support of orphanages and the unnecessary separation of children from their parents, and instead focus on helping families to care for their children.

Save the Children welcomed a ground-breaking decision by all 193 UN member states in New York today. By adopting a Rights of the Child resolution unanimously, they committed to gradually end support to orphanages and similar institutions, and instead focus on family and community-based care for children.

By adopting the resolution, the UN General Assembly also committed to improving data collection on children without parental care, and to tackle the drivers of the unnecessary separation of children, such as volunteering and financial support to orphanages. Tourist visits and volunteering in orphanages supports an industry that exploits children and makes them vulnerable to trafficking and abuse.

“The majority of children in orphanages have at least one living parent,” said Rebecca Smith, Senior Child Protection Adviser at Save the Children. “More needs to be done to support families to better care for their children, instead of sending them to an institution.” An estimated 8 million vulnerable children worldwide live in poorly equipped orphanages and similar institutions.

“An orphanage is no place for children to grow up. Decades of research have shown that the institutionalisation of children is harmful to their physical, mental and social development. In addition, it disconnects them from their extended family, which in many countries is the only safety net they have.

“While the majority of countries in the western hemisphere have long moved away from this practice, many people and organizations from these countries still support this harmful model in countries overseas.

“This resolution is a historic chance for governments to really invest in child protection systems with well trained and screened social workers, who can support vulnerable children and families. To ensure real change, governments need to address the reasons children are often in care in the first place such as poverty, and having access to education and health services.”

Save the Children will support governments wherever possible to transition safely from orphanages to community-based care and to ensure that children’s perspectives, rights, and wellbeing are respected in this process.

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding more than 100 years ago, we've been advocating for the rights of children worldwide. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming the future we share. Our results, financial statements and charity ratings reaffirm that Save the Children is a charity you can trust. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.


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