According to UNICEF , more than two million children live in care institutions; this is likely to be a severe underestimate, whilst many more are living in other forms of alternative care. These children are subject to higher risks of exploitation, abuse and other violations. The Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (CRC) recognises the child's right to be cared for by his or her parents, and sets out States Parties' obligations to provide suitable alternative care.
From as early as 2004, international guidance for children deprived of parental care or at risk so being were called for with a view of improving the implementation of the CRC. Much work was carried out by Government, UN agencies and civil society resulting in the “Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children” (Guidelines) being formally welcomed by the UNGA in November 2009 (A/RES/64/142). The Guidelines are based on two overarching pillars, principles of necessity and suitability , with a strong emphasis on preventing the need for alternative care.
Since 2009 through inter-agency initiatives, stakeholders have been working towards implementing the Guidelines, for example :
Moving Forward (MF) provides specific guidance on the how the Guidelines can be implemented, by providing promising practices among multiple countries and various regions. It provides professionals an impetus and innovative means for implementing the ‘desirable set orientations for policy and practice’ set out in the Guidelines. The handbook likewise offers crucial guidance to civil society in terms of monitoring implementation and reporting to national bodies such as ombudspersons, national child rights institutions as well as international treaty bodies, most notably the CRC Committee.
The “Tracking Progress” Initiative (TPI) is an interactive, strengths-based diagnostic and learning tool designed to help governments and NGOs determine the extent to which a state or region has effectively implemented the Guidelines, and the priorities for change still ahead. By identifying gaps, this in turn can inform improvements in services and support evidence-based advocacy and strategic planning. Promising practices identified in monitoring can then be shared for replication. In these ways systematic monitoring will help ensure full implementation of the Guidelines, improving the quality of care for children and above all creating positive change for children and their families.
International training tool provides teaching, supporting policy and practical implementation between the Guidelines and priority areas for change revealed in the TPI. An International Seminar on Children’s Rights in Alternative Care in October 2016, focusing on promising practices and ongoing challenges, was used as one platform for filming of the online training. (see www.alternativecaregeneva2016.com).
The MOOC on children in the context of international migration would further build on the framework of the above initiatives.
These aforementioned tools have the advantage of having wide support due to the collaborative development process.