April 4 2014

Securing the rights of children in care: Guide launched by the Council of Europe and SOS Children´s Villages

SOS Children’s Villages and the Council of Europe have teamed up once again to advocate for the rights of children in alternative care. After the success of their 2009 joint publication, Discover Your Rights!, a child-friendly information booklet addressed to children and young people in alternative care, the two organisations launched a follow-up publication to inform social care professionals about the rights of children in alternative care at the recent Council of Europe conference Growing with Children’s Rights, held on 27-28 March in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Securing Children’s Rights: A Guide for Professionals Working in Alternative Care promotes a child rights-based approach to social care practice and aims to help professionals in the field of alternative care understand and support the rights of the children and young people with whom they work.  The Guide incorporates and promotes the use of existing instruments, such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, and the booklet Discover your Rights! It was developed by a team of experts who, over the course of country consultations in Albania, Croatia and Estonia, heard real experiences and thoughts of social workers, young people with care experience, care workers and educators, as well as representatives of NGOs, academia, government, and international agencies.  Altogether, over 80 stakeholders and 25 contributors helped shape the booklet.

The new Guide, produced by SOS Children´s Villages and the Council of Europe, shares the best practices of professionals working with children in alternative care. The Guide builds on the success of an earlier collaboration, the child-friendly booklet, Discover Your Rights!

Speaking at the recent launch of the Guide, Kélig Puyet, head of the EU office of SOS Children’s Villages International, stressed that “the consultation process revealed that such an innovative and user-friendly tool, which takes children’s rights and needs into account, as well as those of care professionals, has been long awaited. It shows how taking a rights-based approach can positively influence the practice of social work, for example by helping to improve the relationship between child and care professional”.

Regina Jensdottir, head of the Council of Europe Children’s Rights Division, highlighted the importance of the Guide, which should contribute to improving the lives of children in care who live without the needed love and support of their parents. Promoting the rights of children in vulnerable situations is one of the priorities of the Council of Europe’s Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2012-2015). Thanks to the complementary expertise and networks of the Council of Europe and of SOS Children’s Villages, the Guide provides concrete tips to support all professionals in ensuring that the children they care for, as well as their rights, are being recognised in their everyday lives.

The reception of the Guide has been overwhelmingly positive. Participants of the conference round-table “Promoting the Rights of Children in Alternative Care”, hailed the guide and expressed interest in its dissemination and use. Marie Derain, Child Ombudsperson of France, said the guide is excellent for bridging the gap in knowledge of social workers regarding the Convention on the Rights of the Child and how to use it. Aleksander Romanovic, from the Directorate General Justice in the European Commission (EC), indicated that the EC was clearly very interested in the Guide and acknowledged the tried-and-tested process of its development.

For SOS Children’s Villages and the Council of Europe, advocating and promoting the use of this guide, both to build the capacities of care professionals and to inform the development of policy and services, will be a priority in the coming years. As a first step, at the end of 2013, another set of country consultations involving about 120 stakeholders took place in Bosnia, Croatia, Estonia and France. The aim of the consultations was to gather national stakeholder feedback on the Guide and to discuss its future use at the national level. This process confirmed the interest of all participating stakeholders in using the Guide and in further building on this project.

One of the objectives of the Council of Europe Strategy on the Rights of the Child (2012-2015) is to guarantee the rights of children in alternative care. Strengthened by these past successes, the Council of Europe and SOS Children’s Villages will continue to partner, with the ambition expressed during the conference in Dubrovnik to grow with the rights of children while not forgetting those in the most vulnerable situations, such as children in alternative care.

Read the Guide here:
Securing Children’s Rights: A Guide for Professionals Working in Alternative Care

For more information please contact:

Kélig Puyet
Head of the EU Office
SOS Children’s Villages International
+32 (0)2 235 07 78

Regína Jensdóttir
Child Rights Coordinator
Council of Europe
+33 (0)3 90 21 52 85