A UNICEF and Bosnian parliament’s conference in Sarajevo was attended by decision-makers, civil society actors, experts and young people. The conference “Every Child Needs a Family” was organised by parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights and UNICEF, as part of the EU-funded project “Transformation of Care Institutions and Prevention of Family Separation”.
UNICEF representative in Bosnia, Geeta Narayan, said the Bosnian authorities at all levels should invest more in the prevention of family separation. She added that even in cases when such separation could not be avoided, a child should be placed in foster or other community-based care.
“Placing children with disabilities and children under age of 3 in some form of the institutional care should be the last resort and the shortest possible measure,” Narayan said.
“Having a family should not be a privilege”
“Many scientists and experts who studied this carefully assure us: institutionalization is harmful and detrimental for a physical, hormonal, emotional and intellectual development of any child. It is my strong belief that having a family should not be a privilege or some distant dream. It is a right,” said Head of the EU Delegation and EU Special Representative in Bosnia, Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark.
He said that a vast majority of children were placed in residential care because their parents might be poor, socially excluded or unable to provide necessary treatment to children with disabilities. He stressed that the services aiming to prevent unnecessary family separation should be prioritized, including adoption of the appropriate legislation to secure adequate support of families with children and social protection services.
The conference opened a dialogue between decision makers and professionals, as well as foster parents and young persons who lived in the institutional or foster care, who agreed that changes in this field were necessary and in the best interest of the child.