SOS Children’s Villages has released a new briefing paper entitled ‘A Solid Investment: Integrating Children without Parental Care into the Post-2015 Development Framework‘. The paper proposes operational strategies to correct social disparities affecting the most vulnerable children and to accelerate progress towards the 2030 development goals. The synopsis follows.
Agreeing on the placement of goalposts for sustainable development from 2015 to 2030 entails determining which investments will produce desired effects far down the road. It also involves anticipating where a lack of investment will result in needless, avoidable costs to society.
When it comes to children without parental care or at risk of being separated from their parents, the consequences of insufficient investment are clear. While the ongoing failure to recognize this group as one of the most vulnerable has impeded the design of targeted policy measures, the related global burden of human and social costs has grown and the capacity to achieve internationally agreed development targets has diminished.
Specifically, insufficient social protections and services have led a growing number of at-risk families to fall apart. Meanwhile, a lack of funding, training, and resources to ensure safe, quality alternative care has accounted not only for the growing number of children and youths in institutions or substandard care facilities, but also for the growing number of young people who age out of care without the skills they need to secure adequate housing, find decent employment, ensure good health, or enjoy social integration.
State inaction in these areas flies in the face of international commitments to protect children’s rights, as stipulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, whose 25th anniversary is being celebrated this year. Denying children and young people a chance to grow up in an enabling care environment exposes them to a heightened risk of poverty, inequality, and violence, as well as to multiple risk factors that can hinder their physical, psychological, and social development, making them highly vulnerable to attachment disorders, cognitive impairment, and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Research also demonstrates that in the absence of adequate guidance, young people who leave alternative care fare far worse than the general population when it comes to education, health, employment, and social integration. In addition, studies have linked inadequate childcare to deviant and anti-social behaviour in adulthood, suggesting that inaction in this domain is a threat to individuals and society at large.
Given that the root causes of the problem and the related needs are well documented, isn’t it time to shift from putting out fires to anticipating and preventing them? In the long term, undertaking that shift will certainly be far less costly than staying the course.
What role can states play?
Simply put, the best strategy is one that targets both families at risk of falling apart and substandard alternative care. For states, that translates into investing in family-strengthening programmes and quality alternative care as well as after-care services. This dual approach is the most efficient and effective way to break the cycle of poverty and inequality, protect children’s rights, prevent violence, and enable families and children to be resilient and healthy contributors to society. The impact of these investments is likely to be considerable since, as research conducted by SOS Children’s Villages shows, 70% of children in alternative care could actually be reintegrated into their biological families if adequate support services were to be provided. In fact, poverty is the main reason why parents place their children in alternative care.
What role can the international community play?
A key step in attaining the sustainable development goals is the inclusion of children without parental care in the post-2015 development framework. A recognition of this group as among the most vulnerable and ‘left-behind’ members of society would help to encourage states to design targeted policy interventions aimed at reducing poverty and inequality, as well as to develop indicators and to collect disaggregated data to identify gaps and track progress in services provided to children who lack or are at risk of losing parental care.
You can read the full document at: www.sos-childrensvillages.org/post-2015