December 2020
Focus on Children with Disabilities
‘Families of [children with disabilities] are relying heavily on charities to support them and each other. We have literally been left to fend for ourselves.'

Focus on Children with Disabilities
The Focus Section brings together research and other documentation published over the past year or two on a particular theme or region. Its aim is to draw attention to the growing body of knowledge developing on the issue and help busy practitioners keep abreast of learning and changes.

This publication from UNICEF draws on pre-COVID data to highlight how children with disabilities face greater risks in the midst of this pandemic. It documents what has happened to services for children and adults with disabilities across the world and includes examples of what has been done to address disruptions in services. It also discusses the challenges in generating disability-inclusive data during the pandemic.

Disability Rights International, Validity Foundation, and the European Network for Independent Living, Youth Network Board hosted this webinar on children with disabilities in adversity as part of the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The panel discussed practical solutions to protect children within the framework of evolving legal rights under the CRPD and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), as well as research findings, programs, and strategies to ensure family inclusion that have proven effective.

By drawing on the experiences of parents, advocates, NGOs, and public officials, this side event invited discussion on how, through strengthening families and tools for prevention, societies can reduce the number of children being institutionalized. During the event, a panel of experts from the Republic of Moldova, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Vietnam, and the United States explored their experiences around efforts to empower parents and keep children with disabilities with their families.

Related Topics: Children with Disabilities

This report from the COVID-19 Disability Rights Monitor has one central purpose: to raise the alarm globally as to the catastrophic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on persons with disabilities worldwide, including children with disabilities, and to catalyse urgent action in the weeks and months to come. The survey findings suggest that children with disabilities were disproportionately affected by the measures taken by governments during the pandemic and experience multiple forms of discrimination on the basis of disability and age. 

This webinar - hosted by the Aga Khan Foundation, ECDAN, The Lego Foundation, and UNICEF - highlighted how children with developmental delays and disabilities can have the best chance to not only survive, but also thrive. The webinar delved into the challenges, emerging research from Kenya, and practical country examples from Mozambique, Tajikistan and Peru.

This Training Manual for Caregivers of Children with Disabilities was developed by the Republic of Ghana's Department of Social Welfare and UNICEF to equip caregivers of children with disabilities (which include biological parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, caregivers in institutions, caregivers in day care centers, healthcare providers, teachers of special needs schools, etc.) with the needed knowledge and skill in order for them to be able to provide the required quality of care for the children in their care, in order for them to grow and develop well and become productive in society.

The aim of this study from the journal of Child Abuse & Neglect was to estimate prevalence rates and adjusted rate ratios of exposure to violent parental discipline among children with and without disabilities in middle- and low-income countries.

This report from Inclusion International analyzes data available through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC)’s Creditor Reporting System (CRS), which reveals that many mainstream development projects fail to include people with intellectual disabilities, including children. The report includes guidance for ensuring CRPD-compliant project funding, including examples of community living projects that align with the CRPD, such as supporting the transition of people with disabilities from institutions to independent living and providing training for families on supporting their children with disabilities at home.

Related Topics: Children with Disabilities
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

This new discussion paper produced by UNICEF and Better Care Network elaborates on the extraordinary challenges facing children and families across the globe, and the steps that can be taken to ensure their inclusion in COVID-19 recovery plans. The five-point agenda for care offers a comprehensive, multisectoral roadmap to guide the immediate response to ensure quality care for children as well as the long-term investments across sectors, essential for care reform.

This new UNICEF Innocenti report explores how the social and economic impact of the pandemic is likely to affect children in high-income countries; the initial government responses to the crisis; and how future public policies could be optimized to better support children. 

Related Topics: COVID-19

Key findings in this report from World Vision demonstrate that due to the negative impact of the outbreak, the vulnerability of households in Afghanistan further increased and already existing dangerous coping strategies such as child labor, child marriage and decrease of food consumption have been worsened by financial insecurity for families and losses of household income.

This article from Institutionalised Children Explorations and Beyond compares and contrasts two humanitarian emergencies and their impact on Nepal: these are the Nepal earthquake in 2015 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. It explains how each emergency has impacted children without parental care or at risk of family separation, with specific reference to orphanage trafficking, voluntourism, child institutionalisation and family preservation.

This article from the Indian Journal of Psychiatry focuses on examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic consequences on children in adversity, describing the increased child protection and psychosocial risks they are placed at, during and in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis and its lockdown situation.

This article from Institutionalised Children Explorations and Beyond explores the dynamics of the institutional care of out-of-home care (OHC) children and adolescents in India and across South and Southeast Asia who are residing in alternative care homes, childcare institutes (CCIs), foster homes or in juvenile correctional centres.

In order to address the dearth of information in less developed regions, this article from the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health aims to provide an insight into the increased cases of child abuse in Uganda during the COVID‐19 pandemic.

Understanding the Situation

This report from Coram Voice and the Rees Centre analyses 1,804 care leaver responses to a survey collected in 21 English local authorities between 2017 and 2019. The report explores what care leavers have said about how they feel about their lives and provides insight into their subjective well-being.

Family Matters reports focus on what governments in Australia are doing to turn the tide on over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care and the outcomes for children. This 2020 report - the first to be published following the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, which commits governments to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the country - highlights Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions and calls on governments to support and invest in the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to lead on child wellbeing, development and safety responses for children.

With young people at the centre, this inquiry from the Commission for Children and Young People examines the needs and aspirations of young people leaving care in Victoria, Australia and the capacity of the service system to respond to those needs and aspirations. The report makes 15 recommendation to enhance the service system’s capacity to improve the experiences and life outcomes for young people transitioning from care by responding to their needs, challenges and aspirations.

Related Topics: Foster Care

This report from the Representative for Children and Youth looks at what is known about outcomes for young people in care transitioning into adulthood in British Columbia, Canada, with particular focus on the over-involvement of the child welfare system in the lives of First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Urban Indigenous children and youth in care. The report calls on government to enact comprehensive and lasting change for the young people in its care as they transition into adulthood.

The term ‘toxic trio’ was coined to describe the risk of child abuse and neglect stemming from a combination of domestic violence, parental mental health issues and/or learning disability, and parental alcohol and/or drug misuse. This article from the Children and Youth Services Review reports the results of a systematic review of evidence relevant to the relationship between the ‘toxic trio’ factors in combination and child maltreatment, identifying 20 papers. The discrepancy between the priority given to the ‘toxic trio’ and the paucity of the evidence-base makes a case for a shift away from over-simplified attributions of parental risk in policy and practice, and towards greater attention being given to other significant factors for child protection.

Related Topics: Child Abuse and Neglect

The Fostering Network's State of the Nation’s Foster Care survey is the largest survey of foster carers in the UK. This impact report lists the positive changes that have happened in the world of fostering since the publication of the State of the Nation 2019 report to the end of 2020.

Related Topics: Foster Care

In this report, the UK Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman is highlighting the experiences of children in the care system – and the difficulties they face when councils get things wrong.

Related Topics: Foster Care
This article from the Annals of Tourism Research draws on original empirical data to explore the narratives of young Nepali adults who lived in Kathmandu orphanages as children. Through these narratives, the article explores the diverse complexities of the residents' experiences of volunteer tourism and NGO ‘rescue’, and the shortcomings of recent ‘neoabolitionist’ frameworks.

Policies, Standards, and Guidelines

The Scottish Children’s Rights and Inclusion Strategy, launched on 20 November 2020 by Children's Hearings Scotland, aims to ensure children feel able to speak openly and honestly in hearings, and that their views are given real weight in the decision making process. The strategy helps to embed Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (respect for the views of the child) into the Scottish children’s hearings system and all activities of the Children's Hearings Scotland organization.

This call to action - issued by a coalition of child rights organisations including Hope and Homes for Children, Lumos, Eurochild, and SOS Children's Villages - calls on the Ukrainian government and the European Union to "act before it is too late to protect the rights and future of some of the most forgotten and left behind children." It outlines recommended actions for the Ukrainian government and European Union to take in order to ensure that children in Ukraine grow up in families, not institutions.

Learning from Practice

This report from CELCIS provides an insight into the Permanence and Care Excellence (‘PACE’) programme – a Quality Improvement programme underway from 2014-2020 which engaged with local authority partnerships in 27 of the 32 Scottish local authority areas. The programme was aimed at supporting local authority partnerships across Scotland to reduce permanence planning timescales for looked after infants, children and young people using a Quality Improvement framework.

Related Topics: Foster Care, Permanency Planning

Is it actually possible to end violence against children? This new podcast series from the End Violence Partnership explores the answer to that question by talking to those on the frontlines – the experts, researchers and leaders that have dedicated their lives to keeping children safe.

Related Topics: Child Abuse and Neglect
The Critical On-going Resource Family Education (CORE) Teen is a comprehensive foster parent training program designed to provide resource parents with the knowledge and skills to support teens in their care. This study from the Children and Youth Services Review examined results from trainings conducted across four states and one tribal nation in the U.S.

Related Topics: Foster Care
This article reports on the use of a suite of validated instruments to measure the impact of services on children and their parents in receipt of services provided by an Irish Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) across their seven family centres.

Related Topics: Strengthening Family Care

In response to the need for accurate and reliable statistics on children in residential care, UNICEF has developed the first-ever comprehensive methodology to collect data on children living in residential care settings by applying a number of preexisting tools from international survey programmes, such as the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and other validated instruments, to an institutional population. This video is a recording of the virtual launch of the data collection protocol on children in residential care, held by UNICEF on 3 December 2020.

This presentation was delivered by Marinus van IJzendoorn at a 18 November 2020 meeting of the Evidence for Impact Working Group, a working group of the recently launched Transforming Children's Care Global Collaborative Platform. The aims of the presentation were to present evidence of the harmful impacts of institutionalization on children, demonstrate some of the benefits of deinstitutionalization for getting children back on track, and raise questions about gap-year volunteers working in orphanages.

This webinar, a side event of the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) Forum to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children, features a discussion of the challenges of alternative family and community-based care for children without parental care, with a particular focus on funding and coordination of services.

6 January - 19 February 2021
3-4 May 2021
Brussels, Belgium
Nka (The Swedish Family Care Competence Centre) Linnaeus University and Eurocarers
6-9 June 2021
Milan, Italy
Job Postings and Opportunities

26 December 2020
31 December 2020
No Deadline Provided
3 January 2021
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Family for Every Child
31 January 2021
15 February 2021

Newsletter participants, currently 4,441 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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