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, and the South Caucasus

More than 450,000 children are living in institutions throughout Europe, Central Asia, and the South Caucasus.
Europe World News

, and the South Caucasus More than 450,000 children are living in institutions throughout Europe, Central Asia, and the South Caucasus.

According to the report “Pathways to Better Protection” by the UN Children’s Fund, children with disabilities make up 87% of those in care when data is accessible.

The amount of unaccompanied and separated children seeking refuge in these facilities in western Europe is increasing.

“We have a long way to go before ending Europe and Central Asia’s long and painful legacy of institutionalizing children,” said Regina De Dominicis, UNICEF director for the region.

Children who grow up in institutions often have a difficult time developing healthy relationships, which can continue into their adult lives. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Additionally, individuals who reside in care facilities, especially from a young age, may face challenges in cognitive, linguistic, and other aspects of development, which can increase their vulnerability to becoming entangled in the legal system and being placed back into institutionalized settings.

Some positives

Although facing difficulties, the UNICEF report brings attention to encouraging developments.

In Bulgaria, Moldova, and Georgia, the standard practice of family-based care has replaced formal alternative care, thanks to the implementation of government policies and increased funding.

In both Türkiye and Romania, implementing preventive measures, providing support to families, and promoting foster care have resulted in a decrease in the number of children residing in certain types of care facilities.

Yet, the report highlights the continued struggle for children with disabilities. In countries where data is accessible, statistics have risen in every context from 2015 to 2021.


UNICEF stressed the importance of systematically shutting down large-scale institutions that are used to accommodate and educate children in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and the UN Guidelines on Alternative Care.

This involves substituting residential institutions for children with disabilities or unaccompanied and separated children with superior family and community-centered care.

UNICEF urged for more funding to aid in identifying and addressing concerns for vulnerable children, a strong team of social service providers, services for families to reduce unnecessary separation, and high-quality foster care for children in need of protection.

The organization emphasized the significance of redirecting funds from institutionalized care to care within families and communities, as well as prioritizing investments in accurate data.