October 19 2010

Words become deeds

SOS Children's Villages International formally adopts the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children

18/10/2010 - The International Senate of SOS Children's Villages International unanimously adopted the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children as a key framework for its work. This makes SOS Children's Villages the first organisation to formally express its dedication to implement the UN Guidelines in its work as well as to advocate for their application around the world. Other organisations are invited to join SOS Children's Villages in this endeavour.

Photo: Gunter Bieringer
To act according to the UN Guidelines means to act in the best interest of every child - Foto: Gunter Bieringer
The 20th of November 2009 was a real milestone for children without parental care and children at risk of losing the care of their parents. On this very day, the United Nations General Assembly formally welcomed the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children. These guidelines aim to ensure that families receive all necessary support to care for their children. Only when a family is unable, despite assistance, to provide adequate care for their child should a child be placed in alternative care. SOS Children’s Villages made a significant contribution to the development of these international guidelines, working alongside other NGOs and experts on children’s rights.

"Fifty years ago, the Declaration on the Rights of the Child proclaimed that mankind owed to the children the best it has to give. Yet, today, reality is still far away from this statement. It is time that these words become deeds. The Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children outline a vision that SOS Children’s Villages wants to bring to life, in over 130 countries, by delivering quality services and reminding states of their duty to implement them. Because all children have the right to enjoy the protection of a loving home," said Helmut Kutin, President of SOS Children’s Villages International, after the adoption at the meeting of the International Senate last Saturday.

SOS Children’s Villages takes action to support parents in their care-giving role, keep families together and strengthen communities to prevent children from being separated from them. When children cannot grow up in their families, SOS families provide individualised care when this is in the best interests of the child, for example for siblings. For each child SOS Children’s Villages provides family-based alternative care, SOS Children’s Village is committed to supporting nine more children and their families in the community.

Margaret Nkrumah, Vice-President of SOS Children’s Villages International and Chairperson of the Board of SOS Children’s Villages of Ghana, states: "The Guidelines both reflect the goals we want to achieve and at the same time inspire us to do even more. By adopting them in the International Senate, we want to express our commitment to ensuring that our services for vulnerable children and their families are in line with international legal standards."

Bishwa Keshar Maskay, President of the Board of SOS Children’s Villages of Nepal, adds: "The Guidelines provide SOS Children's Villages a mandate and a broad base to work with child welfare authorities, governments, other NGOs and service providers to make them a reality for children now and in the future."
The Guidelines also address the situation of children in emergencies. Not even two months after this UN resolution was passed, the devastating earthquake in Haiti clearly showed how vulnerable children are in emergency situations, particularly separated and unaccompanied children. SOS Children’s Villages offers a range of services to more than 22,000 children and their families around Port-au-Prince. Applying the Guidelines, SOS Children’s Villages provides protection and a temporary home for separated and unaccompanied children, and works with government authorities, NGOs and community-based organisations to reunite them with their families whenever possible.