August - September 2021
Focus on the CRC Day of General Discussion on Children's Rights and Alternative Care

"What really surprised me was that we’re still facing the same problems since 40 years ago and hopefully that won’t happen anymore and I just hope that in the next 20 years we will look back to 2021 and see how much change we’ve made and how much progress. So I just hope for the future that change will be made and we make great progress and strides when it comes to accountability and justice."

Munashe, a child from Canada and a member of the Children's Advisory Team for the DGD and co-facilitator of Working Group 3
The last couple of months have been momentous for the global care community. Every two years, the Committee on the Rights of the Child devotes one of its regular meeting days to a general discussion open to all key stakeholders to foster a deeper understanding of the contents and implications of the CRC as they relate to specific topics. The 2021 CRC Day of General Discussion (DGD) focused on the theme of Children’s Rights and Alternative Care. Due to the impact of COVID-19, and to ensure an inclusive and participative process, this DGD was held virtually for the first time over two half days on the 16th and 17th September 2021, ensuring actors across different time zones could participate.
It was an unprecedented effort, bringing together the highest number of participants ever recorded from all regions of the world, with more than 1,500 people dialing in from over 125 countries. It was also a first in creating a global event which prioritized as speakers and experts the children, young people, and adults with lived experiences of the care and protection systems. Over 200 written and video submissions were sent to the Committee on the Rights of the Child from children and young people, governments, national human rights institutions, inter-governmental organisations and UN agencies, civil society organisations, academics, and coalition of actors. In addition, over 1,000 children and young people who have experience of alternative care or the child protection system were also consulted through a major global survey on their views and recommendations.
A rich body of learning, experiences, and recommendations was contributed through this process and this newsletter provides links to these resources to ensure they are widely shared. Following this event, an Outcome Document will be produced to capture the process and draw key findings and recommendations. This document is expected to be adopted by the Committee on the Rights of the Child at its next session in early 2022 and it will identify key next steps to strengthen implementation of these children’s rights, including recommendations for Member States and other stakeholders.

The BCN Team

Mario from Bolivia
“I could explain wonder about my life because I was lucky. I would like to repeat this word ‘I was lucky’ because this is the problem with Alternative Care. All revolves around being lucky and it shouldn’t be so.” 

Roxana from Argentina
"I was in this institution for many years, at the beginning, I was not surprised I lived so many years in institutions, but I now understand it was not a good idea because I missed a lot. I missed the sense of family. I missed care because carers in institutions don’t have this role. They don’t listen to us, they don’t know what are our needs and they don’t know what questions to pose and this doesn’t happen just to me. Nobody asks us how we are."

Sinet from Cambodia
“Many care leavers like myself have lived through exploitation, abuse, neglect, and have been used for profiteering in care. While our stories are deeply emotional, one thing care leavers share is that we don’t share our stories for pity.​ We want change. We want justice.”

Nicoleta from Moldova
“A quality service is developed in the community where there is a connection to other services in the community that are available and are cooperating to benefit the child – in the best interests of the child. The collaboration is a key element of the process and to have a sustainable and long-standing result, we should also focus on the collaboration with the family.” 

Focus on the 2021 CRC DGD on Children's Rights and Alternative Care

More than 200 written and video submissions were sent to the CRC from children and young people, governments, national human rights institutions, inter-governmental organisations and UN agencies, civil society organisations, academics, and coalition of actors, including contributions from the regions, and from care leavers and youth led organisations.

View all the submissions here.

The purpose of this background document is to synthesize and present evidence shared in the submissions received by the Committee through the public consultation process of the 2021 Day of General Discussion on Children's Rights and Alternative Care.

View this document in the following languages:

This document outlines the agenda for the two half days, including key themes that were discussed, main sessions and working groups. 

Also available in:

This report was commissioned by a group of civil society organizations (CSOs) in an effort to get a broad sense of what children and young people think about their experiences in alternative care. 

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This is an easy-to-read version of the 'Make Our Voices Count' report.
Graphics: Capturing the DGD Discussions

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Ensuring all children grow up in safe and nurturing families: Strengthening families and communities to prevent separation 

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Addressing the care needs and rights of children who are separated, unaccompanied or without care ​

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Access to Justice and accountability for children and young people in alternative care, their families, and adults who grew up in care 

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Delivering appropriate quality alternative care services

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Transforming the system
towards family and
community-based care

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What would you recommend to government and stakeholders on child rights and alternative care? Here's what children, young people and practitioners had to say.

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This video captures the views and perspectives of care experienced children and young people, those who have left care, parents, foster carers, kinship carers and practitioners from all over the world.

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Disability inclusion is at the forefront of discussions on child rights and alternative care. Children share their experiences of finding family-based care.

DGD Session Recordings

Day 1: September 16
Opening Plenary

Working Group 1
Working Group 2
Working Group 3 

Closing Plenary
Day 2: September 17
Opening Plenary
Working Group 4 
Working Group 5 
Closing Plenary 
A Young Person Shares Her Thoughts on the 2021 Day of General Discussion
(English translation)

My name is Jasmin, I'm 21 years old, I was born in Peru but I live in Argentina and I'm part of the collective Guía Egreso, which is part of Asociación Civil Doncel.

I remember that time when I was holding hands with a friend, walking around and looking at the stars, that day I daydreamed, I imagined myself far from home, I knew that behind the dry hills there were other ways of living life.

When I was 12 years old while travelling from Peru on the international bus, on the fourth day, after passing through Chile and part of Argentina, I discovered that there really were other ways of living and today I am aware that this is so.

At 16, I realised that I could change my reality, that violence could be replaced by affection and that I could really build another destiny, not alone but accompanied. I discovered all this together with many people who are now my chosen family. 

The Better Care Network will continue to share tools, guidance, information, and other resources regarding children's care and protection during the COVID-19 pandemic as practitioners, policymakers, and other key stakeholders work to respond to the needs of children and families impacted by this crisis. For more resources on COVID-19 and children's care, visit the growing collection of documents in the BCN COVID-19 Resource Center

This report presents statistical data from 192 countries on children experiencing COVID-19-associated orphanhood and death of grandparent caregivers, a description of the trends in these data, a real-time COVID-19 Calculator for Death of Parents and Caregivers, and strategies and principles for integrating care for children bereaved by the virus into every nation’s COVID-19 response planning. This report provides the most extensive estimates yet on the current and projected number of children experiencing orphanhood and death of caregivers. 

This study reports overall and US state-specific findings, disaggregated by race/ethnicity, for COVID-19-associated orphanhood and death of grandparent caregivers. High rates of orphanhood, marked disparities, and state-specific differences show the overlooked burden among children at greatest risk, in states most affected.

The book aims to help children stay hopeful and positive during the COVID-19 pandemic. The story is a sequel to ‘My Hero is You: how kids can fight COVID-19!’, published in April 2020. Both books have been released by a collaboration of 60 organizations working in the humanitarian sector.

Drawing from a review of global reports and case studies, as well as from information sourced from Global Social Service Workforce Alliance members, this report explores the key challenges social service organizations and workers have faced since the beginning of the pandemic and showcases how they have been able to adapt and innovate in response to such challenges.

This webinar, the fifth in the Transforming Children's Care Webinar Series focused on a new study ('Impact of COVID-19 on Privately Run Residential Care Institutions: Insights and Implications for Advocacy and Awareness Raising'). The study, comprising 21 semi-structured interviews across seven focus countries, explores the effect of COVID-19 on a small number of privately run and funded residential care institutions.

View the entire series here.

In this "How We Care" series, Family for Every Child has presented the programming of three of its CSO members who have been working on the ground on preventing domestic violence affecting children during COVID-19: ChildLinK in Guyana, the Foundation for Innovative Social Development (FISD) in Sri Lanka, and the Association for Community Development (ACD) in Bangladesh. The programmes and tools are presented through a series of briefing papers, videos and illustrations, which include learnings for other practitioners who may wish to adapt them to their contexts.

This study was conducted in partnership with frontline, human rights defenders, survivor-led organisations/networks and social justice centres using a prospective study design, which enabled the systematic and rapid study of sexual violence in Kenya during the pandemic, even though there were considerable physical distancing measures in place.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities and barriers to social inclusion for people with disabilities. These experiences of social exclusion have been felt to an even greater extent by women with disabilities and under-represented groups of people with disabilities, leading to a range of effects on the operations and priorities of Organisation of People with Disabilities (OPDs). To address a critical gap in the evidence base, the Disability Inclusion Helpdesk carried out a rapid assessment of the role of OPDs during the pandemic, and how the pandemic has affected OPDs’ operations and priorities.

Understanding the Situation
Over the years, many reports, investigations, and assessments have shed light on the conditions that foster youth experience in U.S. institutional placements. Despite this growing body of evidence, institutional placements persist. With little being done to overhaul the system, we believe that what is missing from the conversation is a deep, nuanced understanding of the lived experience and mental models of young people who have recently lived in institutional placements while in foster care, an understanding of institutional placements from youths’ perspectives. This study exists to fill that gap.

This study aims to advance the understanding of children with special needs in foster care by identifying the characteristics, processes, and outcomes of their placement. The study uses a quantitative approach to identify 190 children with special needs (registered) from among 2,157 foster children in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, Spain and examines key data covering 2008 to 2018. The results show that children with special needs are overrepresented in placements with single-parent foster carers (mainly women), raising questions about the extent to which the care system takes the complexity of special needs into account.
Policies, Standards and Guidelines
This was developed together with Secretary of Social Welfare (SBS), the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate (PNA), Guatemala’s Attorney General (PGN), the Judicial Branch (OJ), the National Council of Adoptions (CNA), ASOCRIGUA and Hogar Aldeas de Esperanza. It was informed by Changing the Way We Care’s work in Kenya on the Caseworker’s Guidebook: Case Management for Reintegration of Children into Family or Community-Based Care, adapted to the Guatemalan context.
Planning and implementing a carefully planned case management process is key for successful and sustained reintegration. 

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This Handbook is a summarized, simplified version of the Case Worker’s Guidebook for Case Management for Reintegration of Children/Young Adults into Family- or Community-Based Care. It provides an overview of the principles and practices of case management for reunification and placement of children/young adults outside of parental care (e.g., street-connected children/young adults or from Charitable Children’s Institutions and Statutory Children’s Institutions) into family- and community-based care, up until sustainable reintegration is achieved. 

Also see:

Learning from Practice
Engaging families in the casework process promotes the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families in the child welfare system and is central to successful practice. This bulletin for professionals provides an overview of the foundational elements of the family engagement approach, followed by strategies and promising practices for implementing it.
The Child Rescue Centre was the first orphanage in Sierra Leone to successfully complete a transition from residential to family-based care. This case study highlights some of the key dynamics that arose throughout the transition of the orphanage and examines how those dynamics both influenced the transition and determined the type of support provided as well as the most appropriate transition strategy.

Also see:

Other case studies:

Research suggests that children develop best in families, but millions currently reside in residential care centers. Many residential care centers have transitioned their programmes from a to a family care model. Using a mixed methods design, this study examined (1) antecedents to transition, (2) key elements in the process and (3) outcomes of transitioning models of care. Participants included 39 non-government organizations that had fully or partially transitioned to family care.

This basic awareness-raising course is for anyone who may come into contact with children and young people in alternative care settings. The aim of the course is to provide a brief understanding of trauma, the impact it can have on the lives of children and young people, and ways to support those who may be affected by it.

The aim of this deinstitutionalisation (DI) model is to give guidance and a clear, practical approach for deinstitutionalisation for Residential Homes for Children (RHC) in Ghana. 

Also Read:

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has issued, in collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), a practical guide on how to protect family unity and reunification more effectively in human mobility and mixed movement contexts during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This publication is part of a series of guides issued by the IACHR to address the impact of the pandemic on human rights.

Also available in:

The Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ), in collaboration with the Scottish Child Law Centre, has produced a resource to support Scottish solicitors and practitioners with Good Practice Principles when representing care experienced children in police custody, to ensure their rights are upheld.

This guide brings together practical advice, research and guidance, aimed at criminal solicitors, practitioners and children and young people. 
Language That Cares is a collaborative effort led by TACT that aims to change the language of the care system. "Language is a powerful tool for communication but sometimes the way that it is used in social care creates stigma and barriers for understanding. Language is power, and we want children and young people to feel empowered in their care experience."
This Practical Guidance is for anyone working with children at risk of entering, already living in, preparing or having already left care. It discusses why and how to support children who are at risk of or who have already experienced adverse experiences that might lead to distress or trauma.


The Bright Spots surveys were developed together with children and young people with experience of the care system by asking them what they felt was important for a good life. Over the last 6 years, the Bright Spots Program gathered responses from more than 10 000 children and young people making it the largest study of its kind to have been carried out in the UK.

This webinar shares the national findings and learning from the program.

15 October 2021
20 October 2021
24 October 2021
26 October 2021
31 October 2021
31 October 2021
8 & 9 December 2021
Jobs & Opportunities

31 October 2021
Accepting Submissions for March & Sept 2022 Issues and March 2023 Issue
No Deadline Given

Newsletter participants, currently 4,503 in total, work on issues related to the care and support of vulnerable children across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. The purpose of the newsletter is to enable members to exchange information on matters of mutual concern. If you would like to share a document, raise a specific issue, request a newsletter subscription, or reach out in any other way to the Network, please send the information to us at or visit our website at 

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