The General Assembly of the Armenian Child Protection Network: New Working Groups, New Board, New Members

On October 10th, the Armenian Child Protection Network, has organized its first General Assembly. The meeting was opened by Mr. Artem Asatryan, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Mira Antonyan, President of the CPN, Anna Harutyunian, UNICEF Child Protection Specialist and Mirela Oprea, ChildPact Secretary General.

DI: an affirmed objective of the Armenian social reform agenda

In his introductory remarks Mr. Artem Asatryan showed that the Armenian government is now reviewing the strategy of child protection and that the government needs the support of NGOs for these reforms. ‘I am happy to see that the child-focused NGOs have come together as a network. We have so many recommendations from so many NGOs and often these recommendations are contradictory. An example is the field of guardianship and foster care. In a network you can come together to discuss these views and find the best solutions. In the field of de-institutionalization, one of our main concerns now are the preventive services. Resources are needed for us to be able to create preventive services and your capacity is a valuable resource for us. Armenia is now going towards de-institutionalization and this is why I invite you to develop your services in this direction. In many countries this reform has already took place: it is important for us to learn from these countries so as to avoid mistakes, as it is important that we also share from our experience. You came together at the right time as now we very much need your capacity so that we can achieve the necessary progress with our reforms’.

In response, Mira Antonyan, president of the Child Protection Network, showed that there is a huge number of child protection models and it is important that the NGOs discuss which of these models should be scaled up at national level. ‘I am happy to see that the resistance to de-institutionalization has faded out and we are now talking openly about alternative services to placing children in orphanage as the primary response of the government in front of child vulnerability’. Mira Antonyan also mentioned the role of ChildPact in supporting the CPN in strengthening its capacity and acknowledged the role of World Vision International in creating ChildPact, the Regional Coalition for Child Protection.

Anna Harutyunian said that UNICEF is happy to support the Child Protection Network, as DI is now an important priority that requires all actors to act together.

Mirela Oprea, ChildPact Secretary General, spoke about the need for turning the capital of sympathy that our cause enjoys into tangible results for children. Her speech can be downloaded here.

New working groups

After the introductory remarks the new rules and procedures of the network have been discussed and the following working groups have been established: 1. Development of preventive services and banning of institutionalization for children under 3 years of age; 2. Strengthening of alternative family type of services: foster care, guardianship and adoption; 3. Development of aftercare services: support programs for care leavers aged 18-23; 4. Development of juvenile justice system and programs; 5. Creation of a trust fund for children.

A new board

A new board has been voted by the network members. The new board includes 9 member representatives: 1. Mira Antonyan, Executive Director, FAR Children’s Support Center Foundation; 2. Grigori Grigoryants, Project Manager, World Vision Armenia; 3. Christina Simonyan, Sponsorship Department Manager, Armenian Missionary Association of America; 4. Lusine Simonyan, Director, Child Development Foundation; 5. Manane Petrosyan, Programs Manager, Armenian Association of Social Workers; 6. Armen Danielyan, President, Civil Society Institute; 7. Anoush Yedigaryan, Executive Director, Children of Armenian Foundation; 8. Marian Martirosyan, Country Director, PH International; 9. Qnarik Garanfilyan, President, Family and Community. Mira Antonyan has been re-elected as CPN President and a Council of Directors has been created as an advisory body to CPN’s work.

New members

Nine (9) members have applied to become network members. The new members are: 1. Women Resource Center in Kapan; 2. Psycho-social Center; 3. Aravot; 4. Women Resource Center in Meghri; 5. Armine; 6. Nagashyan Children’s Support Center; 7. Community Consolidation Center; 8.  Louysi Ashxarh; 9. Tatevik. This way, the total membership of the Child Protection Network is 33 organizations. During and after the General Assembly some other organizations expressed their interest of becoming members, which means that the network is meant to grow in the near future.