Open letter to stakeholders on the protection of children’s rights in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic
From 10.04.2020 № 74/20
On behalf of the Ukrainian Child Rights Network, we appeal to the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, the Plenipotentiary of the President of Ukraine for Children’s Rights, regional and Kyiv city state administrations, local councils, donors, public and international organizations on ensuring the protection of children’s rights in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic.
The state of emergency imposed in Ukraine on March 25, 2020, the current crisis and its consequences related to the COVID-19 epidemic, necessitate an immediate response and coordination of joint efforts in the field of protection of the rights of the child.
The system of protection of children’s rights turned out to be unprepared for prompt identification of problems and their solution. According to the Ministry of Social Policy, 42,000 children, some of them children with disabilities, were returned home from boarding schools, orphanages, and social and psychological rehabilitation centers due to the epidemic, but the conditions in which children return were not checked. At the local level, there is a lack of coordination between education, social welfare and children’s services, which prevents these families from being identified and assisted promptly. In addition, the vulnerability of children living in families in difficult life circumstances and in families at risk of violence or neglect increases. A separate category of children in need of protection is children who remained in institutional facilities during the epidemic.
At the same time, due to the emergency, the provision of services was reduced and switched to online or telephone mode. There is no single approach to responding to threats to the safety and lives of children. Specialists in social work and children’s services are not provided with personal protective equipment, transport and communication.
We emphasize that the priority for the protection of children in emergencies is to support families in order to ensure their stability and prevent the removal of children from their families and placement in boarding schools.
The Ukrainian Child Rights Network has held discussions with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on the challenges and possible solutions that will be made public in the near future.
In accordance with our mission to ensure the rights and best interests of the child in Ukraine, we call on the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, the Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights, regional and Kyiv city state administrations, local councils, donors, public , international organizations and volunteers to address the challenges and take immediate action to monitor the rights of children in families returning from boarding schools.
Please include vulnerable families with children in humanitarian and psychosocial assistance groups through regional and local response headquarters.
Public Association “Ukrainian Child Rights Network”