16 May 2013 - Delegates at a conference at the SOS Children’s Villages International headquarters in Innsbruck, Austria, have today highlighted how improving alternative care for each child can be addressed through a campaign that boldly sets out to achieve quality care for children on each continent.
AFRICA - Tackling issues of corporal punishment and achieving legally binding standards related to child welfare was the starting point for Salimane Issifou National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Benin. “With the Care for ME! initiative, other organisations and the wider community will be assisted to understand why children must be protected in a variety of ways.”
Funds raised for children by some groups were misused according to the results of an assessment conducted by RESPES; a network of 57 NGOs in Benin. SOS Children’s Villages took a leading role to address this and a variety of issues relating to the care of children.
“Working in cooperation with UNICEF, we proposed legislation to improve norms and standards based on UN guidelines. Vested interests who benefited from the status quo lobbied against us. After protracted efforts we convinced various cabinet ministers of the need to put children first, and our guidelines were signed into law in recent months, Mr Issifou said.
"Now, childcare governance, accountability and staffing levels are legislated for. The rights of children in Benin are strengthened to address issues such as corporal punishment. The state acknowledged the leading role played by SOS Children’s Villages Benin and encouraged us to make this a legislation matter by helping others involved with child welfare to put the law it into practice. The Care for ME! initiative will be pivotal in this regard."
EUROPE - In Lithuania, advocacy advisor Virginija Pleckeviciene believes the perception of the wider community needs to be addressed. “Many incorrectly believe that children who have food and a roof over their heads are better off in institutional care, than living at home in an at-risk family," said Ms Pleckeviciene.
"The negative psychological effects of institutionalised childcare are not understood by many," she added. "There is little understanding of the concept of family strengthening, which has proven so successfully for SOS Children’s Villages in Lithuania and elsewhere. This is one of several community based care models we promote. Care for ME will help in this regard and encourage the wider community to understand that children are better being cared for in the community, in a family environment.”
THE AMERICAS - Public services and legislation is relatively favourable to children in Uruguay. However, it lacks the family focus that is necessary to address domestic violence. These impacts greatly on women and on their capacity to provide children with the level of care that is much needed. Their children can suffer in many ways and are subsequently at high risk of neglect. According to an assessment conducted by Cynthia Pérez and team at SOS Children’s Villages Uruguay, “many of such children end up in institutional care. Care for ME in Uruguay is about influencing public policy to ensure children have the right to live in a family environment and to receive quality care”.
A family focus is needed to provide care to every child in Uruguay says Cynthia Pérez © SOS Archives
ASIA - Formalising childcare standards is especially challenging in Sri Lanka; a country recovering from a 30-year civil war that ended in 2009. “Catering for the needs of generations of displaced people with diverse cultures will require a tailor made approach to address issues of quality care,” said Aruna Soysa of SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka. In common with many other countries across the globe Sri Lanka will ensure the UN Guidelines on Alternative Care become the legal standard to ensure that every child has the right to quality care. “Care for ME is about uniting SOS Children’s Villages with individuals, communities and organisations at every level truly believe in providing quality care for every child.”