Why are institutions harmful to children?

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The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare of Montenegro has adopted a policy and legal framework that emphasizes the importance of supporting vulnerable parents and children and preventing parent-child separation. Such measures stop children from being placed in the large-scale residential institutions that harm their development and constrain their potential.

Read more at http://www.unicef.org/montenegro/media_24378.html

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Why are institutions harmful to children?

  1. 1. July 2013 Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare of Montenegro has adopted a policy and legal framework that emphasizes the importance of supporting vulnerable parents and children and preventing parent-child separation. Such measures stop children from being placed in the large-scale residential institutions that harm their development and constrain their potential. However, there are still children living in large-scale institutions in Montenegro. Although an important decrease in the number of children without parental care in the Child Home “Mladost”, Bijela has been noted, particularly worrisome is the fact that number of admissions of infants is not decreasing at the same pace as older children (Figure 2). In the life of a child, the phase until three years of age is the most developmentally formative, and the negative effects of institutionalization can be permanent and devastating. As part of a broader initiative launched in the European Parliament, Montenegro joined 20 countries in the region last year in pledging to end the placement of children under three in large-scale institutions. Despite the best efforts of dedicated and caring staff, it has been proven that children who grow up in institutions do not have equal chances for growth and development like other children. Every child needs permanent contact and attachment with parent or close person who care for the child as per optimal growth and development. Given its limited capacities institutions cannot afford this. Children growing up in institutions are more likely to suffer specific delays in physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development. However, family reunification is simply not possible for some children. As reflected in the new Law on Social and Child Protection, foster care expansion is one primary goal in that case. The Strategy on the Development of Fostering in Montenegro was adopted in 2012, and a mass media campaign on fostering called “Every Child Needs a Family” will be implemented later this autumn. Small group homes (SGHs) can be a good alternative form of care for children for whom foster families cannot be found. Small group homes provide a model of appropriate care by replicating life within a family. Children live in small groups with an adult acting as a parent. The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare is establishing the first SGH in Bijelo Polje by the end of 2013, and its construction is being funded by the U.S. Government. However, it is estimated that Montenegro needs approximately ten SGHs. Day care centres are particularly important form of support of children with the most severe disabilities, their parents and families. Catalysts for real change, these centres prevent the institutionalization of children with disability by keeping struggling families together. Day care centres provide daily care for children while parents are able to work and enjoy the parenthood. All children with disability in Montenegro, regardless of where they live, should have equal access to day care centres. Therefore, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare has committed to expand the network of DCC in all municipalities in Montenegro. Since 2008, the number of children and youth with disability in day care centres increased by more than four times (Figure 3).Source: UNICEF Montenegro, 2013. Source: Mladost. Bijela, Montenegro. 2012

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