A resolution "welcoming" the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 November 2009, in connection with the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This momentous day marked a culmination of years of discussions and negotiations led by the Government of Brazil, in partnership with Group of Friends and civil society. Better Care Network and its partners wholeheartedly supported this process. BCN is now working to disseminate and support the implementation of the Guidelines at the country, regional and international levels. (For a history of the development of the Guidelines see below)
This new resource entitled Moving Forward: Implementing the 'Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children' was launched at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday, 7th March 2013. It was developed by CELSIS under an initiative of the Working Group on Children without Parental Care of the NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the project’s Steering Committee which included representatives from ISS, SOS Children’s Villages International, Family for Every Child, ATD Fourth World, Better Care Network, RELAF, and UNICEF.
The Handbook is a practical tool to help policy makers create national legislation and policies which reflect the provisions included in the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children. It provides key information on the approach taken and the main issues raised by the Guidelines. It links to policy and ‘promising practice’ examples, and provides signposts to useful additional resources.
For more information about Moving Forward and to download the English, Spanish and French versions of the Handbook, visit:
Review of the Implementation of the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children
“Since the adoption of the Guidelines, the Committee has been making full use of the principles and objectives established in the Guidelines when examining the reports of States Parties to the Convention and in formulating its observations and recommendations to them.”
Jean Zermatten, Chairperson UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, 31 October 2012 (Introduction to Moving Forward)
The Launch of the Handbook of the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children at the Human Rights Council, Geneva, 7th March 2013, Press Release.
Experts: Out of Country Adoptions are a Last Resort, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
References NGO Working Group's statement on the Guidelines.
Protecting Haiti's Children from 'Cowboy Adoptions', BBC Online
Includes comments from BCN Advisory Group member and Save UK Care Adviser, Louise Melville-Fulford and highlights the importance of the Guidelines
Rebuilding Childhood in Haiti, UNICEF
Calls for Haiti to put the Guidelines into practice.
The international guidelines seek to ensure that, on the one hand, children do not find themselves in out-of-home care unnecessarily and, on the other, out-of-home care provided is of a type and quality that corresponds to the rights and specific needs of the child concerned. They are designed to promote, facilitate and guide the progressive implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in this particular area of concern. The Guidelines address not only governments but also international bodies and organisations, civil society, professionals, voluntary organisations and the private sector to the extent that they are directly or indirectly involved with organising, providing or monitoring out-of-home care for children.
The development of international standards for improving the protection of children without parental care began in 2004 with UNICEF and International Social Services research and advocacy program calling for these standards. This resulted in the Committee on the Rights of the Child 2005 Day of General Discussion recommendations calling on the UN, Governments and civil society partners to produce international standards for the protection and alternative care of children without parental care for the UN General Assembly to review and adopt.
Following these recommendations, a first draft of the guidelines was developed by an NGO Working Group on Children without Parental Care. The Better Care Network's advisory group reviewed and commented on the guidelines. In May 2006, the draft guidelines were submitted for consultation at the CRC. The Committee reviewed and strengthened the guidelines in preparation for informal technical review by UN member states.
In August 2006, in Brasilia, the Brazilian government hosted an inter-governmental meeting of over 40 technical experts to further refine and strengthen the guidelines. As a result of this meeting, a 15-country "Group of Friends" — led by the Government of Brazil — was established to host a series of intergovernmental consultations to further strengthen the guidelines. These consultations culminated in a resolution of the Human Rights Council in June 2009 to submit the "Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children" to the UNGA with a view to their adoption in November 2009.
Better Care Network partners is committed to advocating for the use and understanding of the Guidelines on Alternative Care.
The Better Care Network Secretariat as the co-convenor of the NGO Working Group on Children without Parental Care based in New York will continue advocating for the use and recognition of the Guidelines. Working in partnership with the NGO Working Group based in Geneva, one of the major tasks of the NGO Working Group is to promote the Guidelines dissemination and implementation. In the immediate aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, the NGO Working Groups issued a joint statement calling for the humanitarian response to uphold recommendations set forth in the Guidelines for Alternative Care in regards to care for children in emergencies, preventing family separation and promoting family based care in their community of origin where possible.
Better Care Network will continue to serve the function of disseminating and sharing information on the Guidelines via the BCN website and bimonthly e-newsletter announcements. On the BCN website we have a number of Guideline resources and tools produced by BCN partners, listed below.