Joint Efforts for Child Protection
Child protection in Armenia needs radical changes. According to the experts, as a result, children will have an opportunity to live in families or close to family environments instead of growing up in residential institutions.

The members of Child Protection Network Roman Harutyunyan, Gayane Asatryan, Knarik Garanfilyan, Mariam Martirosyan, as well as Mira Antonyan, Head of Child Protection Network, and Anna Harutyunyan, Representative of United Nation’s Children Fund, spoke on the current issues of child protection, activities of the government aimed at their solution, as well as their respective recommendations at the Media Center hosted press conference.

‘We intend to achieve complete deinstitutionalization in Armenia. The residential schools that will remain afterwards will involve children who are not included in schools of general education yet,’ noted Anna Harutyunyan.

According to the speaker, the United Nation’s Children Fund collaborated with a number of organizations on a five-year long USAID- funded program with a budget of USD 3.5 mln and USD 1.5 mln direct aid to the Armenian state budget.

While Mira Antonyan thought highly of the new approach employed by the government, she noted that, ‘Deinstitutionalization may cause a problem – the church and Diaspora may fall out of the education process of the children. The children must be educated in families or family close environments without being isolated from special institutions and organizations.’

Roman Harutyunyan, representative of World Vision Armenia and member of the Child Protection Network, claimed that there exists high rate of children’s poverty which has recently increased, according to the National Statistical Service and UN data. ‘The international conventions require a child-centered policy. However, the National Statistical Service states that 300 thousand children live in poverty in Armenia, 27 thousand out of which are in extreme poverty.’

Knarik Garanfilyan, member of the Child Protection Network, called for support to vulnerable families, ‘Once the child is placed in a foster or adopting family, the family is left alone with the child, meanwhile the process must be continued.’

With respect to the secrecy of adoption, the speaker noted that the secrecy deprives the agencies of the opportunity to conduct further supervision to find out whether the child feels happy in the given family, or what measures can be taken to facilitate the child’s integration.

Gayane Asatryan assured that the establishment of the institution of social worker in communities will have a preventing function. ‘This year 2600 children have benefitted from social services of our organizations thus halting further problems.’

Mira Antonyan singled out another issue which requires an urgent solution. The speaker stated that 64-65 children that are 0-3-year-old are placed in residential institutions, which has a negative impact on the children, complicating the subsequent opportunity for their recovery.

Discussing the issues of juvenile justice, Mariam Martirosyan said, ‘The international experience proves that juvenile delinquents must be involved in the social processes instead of being punished and isolated as it happens nowadays in Armenia.’

The speaker invited all the interested parties to the public hearing entitled ‘Together for Children’ to be held at Erebuni Plaza at 10:00, July 1. The public hearing will be attended by representatives of non-governmental, state and international organizations. The members of the Child Protection Network are convinced that comprehensive improvements in child protection require joint efforts of non-governmental and international organizations, as well as respective authorities, church and Diaspora in order to complete one mission for children’s sake.

Children Protection Network was founded in 2005 setting a goal to increase the quality of providing services to children in need and their families, as well as proposing to the state new mechanisms for regulating child protection field, thus promoting the system improvement. Presently, the Network with 22 member organizations cooperates with ChildPact Regional Coalition for Child Protection in the Wider Black Sea Area.

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