Children’s Rights

Greece trails every other European country with regards to child protection. Europe has implemented De-Institutionalization long ago, treating it not only as best but as common practice.

The Rights of the Child

In a historic move on the 18th of December 2019, the United Nations Assembly endorsed the renewal of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, placing emphasis on children outside parental care 1. The need for quality alternative care is highly placed on the political agenda as well as on the global map of children’s rights.

Since 2013, the European Union has stressed the importance of De-institutionalization, in policy as well as in funding mechanisms. The implementation of the European Commission Recommendation on Investing in Children (2013) strengthened this trend, calling all Member States to use the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) for the promotion of alternative care models in child protection. In 2017, the European Commission repeated its commitment to support programs and policies for prevention of family separation. Finally, the European Pillar of Social Rights (2017) recognized further the rights of children and youth outside parental care and the ‘need for every child for access to preschool education and care of high-quality standards’.

Institutionalization is damaging

It is scientifically proven that institutionalization is damaging to children and their development 2. Every child has individual needs, wishes and a personal story. Institutions cannot provide the personalized care, attention and love that every child needs to develop well, and thus cannot cater to his or her individual needs or serve in his or her best interest – the leading principle of Children’s Rights. Institutions operate in ways which conflict basic principles of human prosperity and proper human development: they are impersonal, impose a rigid routine, lack attachment and affection, and do not allow the individual care and attention indispensable for a child to thrive. They also refrain from cultivating a relationship with the child’s biological family, whenever this is in the best interest of the child.

Researchers have documented structural and functional changes in the brains of children who grow up in an institutional environment. Research related to early child development shows that even a brief stay in an institution negatively and permanently affects the cognitive, emotional and social development of children. These effects persist throughout childhood to adulthood and are often transmitted to the next generation. These children are many times more likely to experience unemployment, social exclusion, and depression as adults; they are also much less able to properly develop and maintain family bonds 3.