Gov­ern­ment & UNICEF to im­prove lives of chil­dren in res­i­den­tial fa­cil­i­ties


Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

Last week the Min­istry of So­cial Wel­fare, Re­lief and Re­set­tle­ment, with the sup­port of UNICEF, launched a set of guide­lines and min­i­mum stan­dards, along­side mon­i­tor­ing and over­sight plans, aimed at bet­ter­ing the lives of chil­dren in res­i­den­tial care. The ‘Guide­lines on Reg­is­tra­tion and Sup­port for Vol­un­tary Or­gan­i­sa­tions and the Min­i­mum Stan­dards of Care and Pro­tec­tion for Chil­dren (MSC) in Res­i­den­tial Fa­cil­i­ties’ were launched at an event that brought to­gether around 200 par­tic­i­pants from Gov­ern­ment, em­bassies, UN agen­cies, civil so­ci­ety and the me­dia. In ad­di­tion to de­tail­ing the steps that res­i­den­tial fa­cil­i­ties will need to take to reg­is­ter and be el­i­gi­ble for Gov­ern­ment sup­port, the guide­lines es­tab­lish the ser­vices that th­ese in­sti­tu­tions will have to pro­vide to chil­dren such as ac­com­mo­da­tion, health care, hy­giene, nu­tri­tion and ed­u­ca­tion, in­clud­ing vo­ca­tional train­ing. Min­i­mum stan­dards of qual­ity for all th­ese es­sen­tial ser­vices are also stip­u­lated in the guide­lines.

Un­der the new scheme, min­i­mum train­ing re­quire­ments for care­givers are es­tab­lished as well as a code of con­duct they must ad­here to. Care­givers are ex­pected to de­velop spe­cific plans tai­lored to meet the pro­tec­tion and learn­ing needs of in­di­vid­ual chil­dren; and all res­i­den­tial fa­cil­i­ties will be ex­pected to have func­tion­ing sys­tems to trace chil­dren’s fam­i­lies and, on a case by case ba­sis, study the op­tions for pos­si­ble re-in­te­gra­tion. Opened by Dr San San Aye, Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of De­part­ment of So­cial Wel­fare, Min­istry of So­cial Wel­fare, Re­lief and Re­set­tle­ment (MSWRR) and Mr Paul Ed­wards, Act­ing Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of UNICEF Myan­mar, the event gave an over­view of res­i­den­tial and fam­ily-based care prac­tices in Myan­mar as well as other coun­tries in the re­gion. Par­tic­i­pants dis­cussed the plans to roll­out and im­ple­ment the new guide­lines and high­lighted the pos­i­tive im­pact that th­ese new guide­lines will have on the lives of the many chil­dren across Myan­mar that still rely on res­i­den­tial care.

“The MSWRR is work­ing in close part­ner­ships with the Min­istry of Re­li­gious Af­fairs and Cul­ture, Min­istry of Bor­der Af­fairs as well as UNICEF and civil so­ci­ety to pre­vent un­nec­es­sary fam­ily sep­a­ra­tion, to en­sure that all boys and girls can live and grow up in a healthy fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment, and that ad­e­quate care and pro­tec­tion is pro­vided to all who are liv­ing in al­ter­na­tive care ar­range­ments,” said Dr San res­i­den­tial fa­cil­i­ties, up from 12,000 in 2006. This num­ber does not in­clude chil­dren liv­ing in un­reg­is­tered in­sti­tu­tions, monas­tic care fa­cil­i­ties as well as other faith based res­i­den­tial fa­cil­i­ties. So far, only 244 res­i­den­tial care fa­cil­i­ties are reg­is­tered with the De­part­ment of So­cial Wel­fare and there is lim­ited in­for­ma­tion avail­able on the con­di­tions, sit­u­a­tion, or stan­dards be­ing ap­plied in in­sti­tu­tional care across Myan­mar. By adopt­ing this set of Guide­lines and Min­i­mum Stan­dards of Care, the gov­ern­ment aims to en­sure that all res­i­den­tial fa­cil­i­ties are reg­is­tered with the Min­istry of So­cial Wel­fare, Re­lief and Re­set­tle­ment. The guide­lines and stan­dards will help to har­mo­nize the qual­ity of care and eq­uity in pro­vi­sion for all boys and girls liv­ing in all forms of res­i­den­tial care across the coun­try and in all con­texts.

Dur­ing the launch event par­tic­i­pants also stressed the im­por­tance of pri­or­i­tiz­ing fam­ily-based care over res­i­den­tial care. “Res­i­den­tial care plays an im­por­tant role, and im­prov­ing the con­di­tions for chil­dren liv­ing in res­i­den­tial fa­cil­i­ties is a key im­me­di­ate step to pro­tect chil­dren de­prived of parental care,” said Mr. Paul Ed­wards, the Act­ing Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of UNICEF in Myan­mar. “How­ever, when a child is sep­a­rated from their fam­ily, fam­ily-based al­ter­na­tive care should al­ways be ex­plored first as we know that is where chil­dren have the best chance of reach­ing their full po­ten­tial.” Within the co­op­er­a­tion frame­work be­tween UNICEF and the Gov­ern­ment of Myan­mar, UNICEF has been sup­port­ing the MSWRR to strengthen Myan­mar’s child-care sys­tem. This in­cludes pre­vent­ing fam­ily sep­a­ra­tion and pro­mot­ing fam­ily-based al­ter­na­tive care.

The de­vel­op­ment of the Guide­lines and Min­i­mum Stan­dards is the re­sult of the long-term ef­forts led by the De­part­ment of So­cial Wel­fare/Min­istry of So­cial Wel­fare (DSW), Re­lief and Re­set­tle­ment in co­or­di­na­tion with Min­istry of Bor­der Af­fairs and Min­istry of Re­li­gious Af­fairs and Cul­ture and other con­cerned de­part­ments and min­istries. “En­sur­ing that all in­sti­tu­tions car­ing for chil­dren are fully fa­mil­iar with this new set of min­i­mum stan­dards and that they have the nec­es­sary tools to im­ple­ment them is now es­sen­tial, and so is the set-up of a ro­bust sys­tem to mon­i­tor their im­ple­men­ta­tion,” Mr. Ed­wards con­cluded. “With th­ese in place we can be more con­fi­dent that chil­dren liv­ing in res­i­den­tial fa­cil­i­ties are fully cared for and pro­tected.”

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