November 23 2009

United Nations adopted a resolution welcoming the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children

23/11/2009 - SOS Children's Villages International is very pleased to announce that on 20 November 2009 the United Nations General Assembly in New York adopted a resolution welcoming the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children. Over the last five years, SOS Children's Villages International has been a leading organisation in supporting the development of these Guidelines and promoting them towards adoption.

Photo: Benno Neeleman
Why do we need Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children?

Whilst the Convention on the Rights of the Child celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, there remains a pressing need for guidance in implementing the convention for millions of children worldwide without, or at risk of losing, parental care. These children face many challenges to their rights to be cared for, to education, and to access health care. They can also face significant discrimination and stigmatisation, both as children and as adults.

"The Guidelines are a long overdue necessity. They are intended to ensure adequate responses to the often highly complex and delicate situation of children who have lost, or are at risk of losing, parental care. The implementation of the Guidelines will ensure that children are listened to and receive specific attention for their particular situation and needs. Furthermore, the Guidelines will help us to speak out for those children and to constantly monitor and improve our own services", said Richard Pichler, Secretary-General of SOS Children's Villages International.

What is the purpose of the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children?
The Guidelines stress first and foremost that all efforts should be made to strengthen vulnerable families with a view to keeping the child with his or her family. If such strengthening efforts are not successful or not appropriate then, only in cases of necessity, should children be placed in alternative care. The Guidelines discuss a range of options including foster care, other family-based environments, or small group residential care, from which the option chosen should meet the best interests of the children in each specific case.

SOS Children's Villages and the Guidelines for the Alternative care of Children
Children without parental care, or at risk of losing parental care, are the focus of SOS Children's Villages. The Guidelines emphasise that these children and their families need particular attention and solutions. SOS Children's Villages can reflect upon decades of experience in supporting families and providing alternative care. The SOS Children's Villages programme consists specifically of family strengthening interventions to keep families together, and offering alternative care in a family environment when required. We strengthen and support families through tailor-made programmes (counselling services, life-skills training, income-generating activities, material support, capacity-building of recourses in the community), so that families are empowered and capable of caring for and protecting their children.

We therefore welcome the Guidelines which echo some well established standards in our work. For example, the Guidelines particularly emphasise principles such as keeping siblings together, and of ensuring that young people are suitably prepared, supported and empowered for life after being in care.

Recognition by the UN General Assembly gives the Guidelines political weight which strengthens NGOs like SOS Children's Villages, working with and for children, in demanding that their concerns be heard and rights respected. It is with great pleasure that we welcome the UN General Assembly's resolution of recognising the Guidelines and the important issues they address.

Guidelines available as publication

SOS Children’s Villages International and the International Social Service (ISS) are pleased to launch the publication "Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children: A United Nations framework", with a foreword from Yanghee Lee, the Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. It includes the text of the Guidelines, sets of introductory questions reflecting on national policy, and a page of useful links to further information and resources (please find the publication for downloading in the right column).

This publication, in English for the moment, will soon also be available in French & Spanish. The printed version of the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children in English can be ordered free of charge at