Cambodian Government Releases Two Key Documents on Child Care in the Country

The Mapping of Residential Care Facilities, and the Action Plan for improving child care in Cambodia were released here this morning by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY), with support from UNICEF.

The mapping provides new data on the situation of institutionalisation of children, and confirms that far more residential care institutions (RCIs) are in Cambodia than previously recorded by MoSVY, said the ministry and UNICEF in a joint press release.

According to the findings, 16,579 children were found to be living in 406 residential care institutions spread across Cambodia, far more than what was known to MoSVY. Previously available data through MoSVY's inspection process had recorded 254 institutions, with 11,171 children living in them.

The survey was conducted by MoSVY staff with support from UNICEF, USAID and the partners of the Partnership Programme for the Protection of Children (3PC) in all the provinces and municipalities of Cambodia by physically visiting each of the identified facilities, pointed out the joint press release.

Findings show that the distribution of RCIs in Cambodia is uneven with 83 percent of all RCIs and 87 percent of the children living in RCIs found in nine of the 25 provinces, it said, indicating that Phnom Penh and Siem Reap alone account for half of the total number of RCIs.

Many residential care institutions are out of the ministry's regulatory framework � 38 percent of the institutions have never been inspected by MoSVY; 12 percent not registered with any branch of government, and 21 percent of the institutions do not have a Memorandum of Understanding with the government, continued the same source.

The finding that many residential care institutions are out of the government's regulatory framework raises significant concerns for the well-being of the children living in them. The government's Policy on Alternative Care for Children (2006), the Minimum Standards on Alternative Care for Children (2008) and the recent Sub-Decree on the Management of Residential Care Institutions (2015) clearly state that family- and community-based care are the best options for the alternative care of children, that institutional care should be a last resort and a temporary solution, and that the primary role in protecting and caring for children lies with their family, said H.E. Vorng Saut, MoSVY.

We conducted this survey to build evidence of where different facilities are located and how many children live in them. MoSVY will now include them into annual inspection as well as reintegrate children who can be safely placed into family- and community-based care, he added.

Decades of global scientific research have shown that living in residential care can harm a child's social, physical, intellectual and emotional development with long-term impact on their adult life. Most of the RCIs were found to be providing long-term care, defined as more than six months, despite problems associated with keeping children in institutions for long periods of time.

Having completed a nation-wide survey to identify operational residential care institutions in Cambodia, the Government is now equipped with better information and knowledge to implement the Action Plan for improving child care in Cambodia, with the target of safely returning 30 percent of children in residential care to their families or other forms of family-based care, said Ms. Debora Comini, UNICEF Representative to Cambodia.

The Action Plan was signed in October 2016 by H.E. Minister of MoSVY to support the implementation of the Sub-Decree on the Management of Residential Care Institutions, a significant policy breakthrough that aims to regulate residential care in Cambodia, and the accompanying Statement of Commitment, both of which require MoSVY to undertake a number of critical actions to promote family and community-based care.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press