Millions of children live outside of any adult care, this can have devastating consequences for their well-being. Children living on the streets, in child-only households without any adult supervision or with exploitative or abusive adults are extremely vulnerable to violence, exploitation, recruitment by armed forces and are exposed to health risks.
They are also commonly unable to attend school, they feel lonely and isolated, and worry about their future, but without any support to deal with these feelings.
We are taking steps to prevent children from having to live outside of any adult care, without the care of families or other caregivers, and in the interim, protecting these boys and girls. Unfortunately, we can’t immediately stop all children from having to live outside of adult care, we have to offer them more support and protection. At the same time the development of better alternative care choices for children has to be prioritized, it is also important that children outside of adult care are immediately protected. To prevent children being separated from their families in the first place, families need to be strengthened and better supported.
Children are rarely involved in decisions that concern their care and protection; their best interests are often ignored. Because of this, children are placed in large-scale institutions or other forms of inadequate care. Within families and in the formal care system, children are often excluded from decision making about their care which can make them feel frustrated and sometimes lead them to leave their home.
We are promoting better and more participatory decision making about children’s care. It is important to listen to and respond to children, and to recognize their role in decisions about their own lives, including decisions about whether or not they should be with their families. Children’s right to participate in decisions which affect them is recognized by international guidance. All decisions about children’s care need to be made on a case-by-case basis, to ensure that their individual voices are respected, and their views have to always be considered.
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