Strengthening alternative care models in Armenia

On the 15th of October, Child Protection Network Armenia (ACPN) organized a working meeting between its members and partner organizations UNICEF, World VisionSave the Children and  Bridge of Hope to discuss the current situation and the challenges of the alternative care models in Armenia. 

Currently, deinstitutionalization is underway in the Republic of Armenia. Preliminary preparatory activities should be carried out before removing children out of the institutions. These activities include strengthening and development of family-based care models, improving capacities of the children’s protection mechanisms in the community, establishment of family support services in the communities, etc.

ACPN  President, Mira Antonyan noted: “Without these preliminary activities, the reform on deinstitutionalization carried out in Armenia will be a failure”.

Knarik Garanfilyan, Coordinator of the dedicated ACPN working group reflected on the process of quick removal of children from N1 boarding institution “Moving children from one institution to another, creates negative consequences for the children”.

UNICEF, World Vision and Bridge of Hope NGO presented the activities conducted within the framework of USAID funded project “Toward social inclusion of vulnerable children, Expanding alternative care, family support, and inclusive education services as a part of child-care reform”, as well as dwelled on the future planned activities.

Within the framework of this project, among other activities, needs of 270 children in institutions and their families were assessed. Most of the children have biological families. About 90% of respondents would prefer the children to live with their families.

Social support opportunities that can be provided by the communities of these children were also estimated. It was found out that the available services are not sufficient. Currently the standards of multi-functional (professional) community center are being developed.

The participants acknowledged the importance of cooperating and decided to continue sharing information and the faced challenges to work on the common agenda and conduct the watch-dog function aimed at securing that the deinstitutionalization process meets “10 steps to reforms” approach.