The Romanian – Armenian cooperation on child rights and protection has reached a new milestone. On the 25th and the 26th of August, a high-level Armenian delegation led by the Armenian Minister of Labour and Social Affairs visited Bucharest, having the mission to learn about the means and ways the child protection reform took place in Romania. Transforming the institutionalization of children into alternative care methods to support a child’s proper development was one of the main points of interest during the field trip of the Armenian delegation.
The Armenian delegation was composed of governmental, parliamentarian and civil society representatives: Artem Asatryan, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs; Hakob Hakobyan, Chair of the Social Affairs Committee (Parliament of Republic of Armenia); Ara Babloyan, Chair of the Health Care, Maternity and Childhood Committee (Parliament of Republic of Armenia); Davit Hakobyan, Advisor to the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs; Mira Antonyan (President of the national coalition of child-focused NGOs). Through this field visit, the Armenian Minister of Labour and Social Affairs was looking to find inspiring child protection models in the Romanian context that could be transferred and implemented in Armenia.
This mission has been enabled through the collaboration of the following partners: ChildPact, World Vision Romania, FONPC (The Romanian Federation for NGOs for the Child), APSCF (the Moldavian national coalition for child protection) and the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Protection and Elderly. The initiative was financed through the projects “Stronger Networks for Children” (financed by the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Romanian Official Development Assistance), “United Voices for Children” (financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development), and the Mobility Fund of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The first meeting of the Armenian delegation was with FONPC (The Romanian Federation for NGOs for the Child), which has been one of the main leading actors of the child protection reform in Romania. Bogdan Simion, the President of FONPC, explained to the Armenian Minister of Labour and Social Affairs the role and importance of NGOs in promoting the child protection reform. Afterwards, looking to better understand the value of alternative care services, the Armenian delegation visited the Saint Mary community center in Bucharest to see how an orphanage has been transformed into a community center that can properly accommodate children’s needs. The visits continued to a small group home for children and to other services dealing with the prevention of child abandonment.
On the following day, the Armenian delegation had several high-level meetings with representatives of the Romanian Authority for Child Protection and Adoption (Simona Oproiu, Chief of Monitoring Service; Ciprian Buhusi, Chief of Control Service; Mirela Franciug, Senior Counselor; Gabriela Nicolaescu, Senior Counselor; Ana Radulescu, Counselor of the Minister of Labour, Family and Social Protection).
The highlight of the day was represented by the meeting of Dragoş Pâslaru, the Romanian Minister of Labour, Family and Social Protection with members of his cabinet. Mr. Pâslaru presented to Mr. Asatryan the anti-poverty strategy of the Romanian government and strategies on integrating formerly institutionalised children in the community. “The quality of social services depends on the people implementing and delivering them. Therefore, within a same legislative system, there are in Romania services that can be considered models of best practice and services that still need improvements” explained Mr. Pâslaru during the discussions. Mr. Asatryan agreed emphasizing that “the social protection system works for the people and decision-makers should act as they would act for themselves when it comes to designing these services. What Romania does with the enabling of integrated social services is very useful as it gives direct support to the people”. Both counterparts agreed to continue their cooperation in the future.
The mission of the Armenian delegation ended with a visit to World Vision Romania – to learn more about the care services made available for vulnerable children in the country – and to the Center for Juridical Resources, where the Armenians found out how a Romanian NGO monitors the rights of institutionalized persons.