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International community unites efforts to ensure the right of every child in Ukraine to a family: EU and UNICEF sign agreement to support implementation of the childcare and support system reform


On April 26, the International Dialogue on the Reform of the childcare and support system was held in Kyiv as part of the International Summit of Ministers of Social Policy. The event was aimed at uniting governments around the possibility of ensuring the right of every child in Ukraine to grow up in a family environment and jointly launching steps towards the implementation of the reform.

“The reform of the childcare and support system is among the key reforms recommended by the European Commission to facilitate Ukraine’s European integration. Harmonization of legislation in this area with European standards and implementation of best international practices demonstrates Ukraine’s commitment to protecting children’s rights and ensuring decent conditions for their harmonious development and growth in a family environment.

During her video address to the participants of the International Dialogue, First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, emphasized that the reform of the childcare and support system is not merely ‘just another reform. “It is about creating a better Ukrainian society where every child has a family and warmth. “This means more care and security in our entire society, in the whole country. Therefore, this reform is about all of us. Everything related to children has always been important for Ukraine. And over the years of invasion has become strategic. The same as defense. Not only because, as the saying goes, “children are the future.” It is because they are the present,” the First Lady of Ukraine said.

At the event, Ambassador of the European Union to Ukraine, Katarina Mathernova, and UNICEF Representative to Ukraine, Munir Mammadzade, signed an agreement between the EU and UNICEF in Ukraine to support the implementation of the childcare and support system reform. The international partners thus confirmed their intention to provide further assistance in ensuring the rights of the child, in particular the right to grow up in a family environment, and to strengthen support for Ukraine’s initiatives around this reform.

Today we see a powerful combination of a strong government commitment and financial support from the European Union, and successful partnership of the central and local authorities, that have come together with UNICEF to ensure healthier and happier future for millions of children of Ukraine. With this and additional support of other partners, we will be able to accelerate our efforts and make tangible progress in transforming the lives of Ukraine’s most vulnerable children,” noted Munir Mammadzade, UNICEF Representative to Ukraine.

In reforming its childcare and support system, Ukraine is building on international best practices, backed by successfully implemented initiatives. “I welcome Ukraine’s determination to remain steadfast in its commitment to adopting and complying with European standards. The European Union is committed to ensuring the right of every child to grow up in a safe and caring environment in which they can reach their full potential. Ukrainian children should have exactly the same prospects,” said Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President of the European Commission, in a video message.

The event was chaired by Ms. Oksana Zholnovych, Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine, and attended by ministers and deputy ministers of social policy from the EU member states, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Representatives of the Office of the President of Ukraine, central executive authorities, regional state administrations, international financial institutions, civil society and international organizations also attended. Representatives of organizations such as the Olena Zelenska Foundation, SOS Children’s Villages Charitable Foundation, Voices of Children Charitable Foundation, Hope and Housing for Children Charitable Organization, Save the Children, and Lumos Foundation, who actively contribute to the implementation of the childcare and support system reform in Ukraine, also participated in the event.

Iryna Tuliakova, Head of the Coordination Center for Family Upbringing and Child Care Development, presented to the participants of the event a draft Strategy for Ensuring the Right of Every Child in Ukraine to Grow Up in a Family Environment. This is a kind of roadmap that outlines the main stages, timelines, and key priorities for the successful implementation of the reform and achievement of its main goal – to ensure that all children in Ukraine grow up and are brought up in a safe family environment, alongside caring adults who support them, in communities where children and families with children are provided with all the necessary social services.

The international dialogue has demonstrated the unwavering intention of Ukraine and its international partners to protect the rights and interests of the most vulnerable members of society – children who need significant attention and a loving and caring family, especially in the context of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine. At the same time, the immediate implementation of the reform and consolidation of efforts around it is also of key importance for Ukraine’s European integration aspirations, as stated in the European Commission’s Recommendation.

For reference:

The Coordination Center for Family Upbringing and Child Care Development was established at the initiative of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, First Lady Olena Zelenska and with the support of President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. The Coordination Center is an advisory body to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and operates with the support of the European Union and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Ukraine.

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