Alternative systems of childcare are crucial for children whose biological families are unable to raise them. In such systems, states must be attentive to children’s voices, as they possess unique knowledge of their lives and have the right to participate in decision-making. The Armenia Child Protection Network proposes a new media tool that will raise the voices of youth and enable them to advocate for alternative care systems that will properly care for them and protect their rights.
Armenia and the Black Sea Neighborhood Countries
We address the often-violated right of every child to grow up in a family environment, as declared by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Across the Black Sea Neighborhood, children whose families cannot care for them end up in institutions instead of in family-based care like guardianship, adoptive families or foster care. In addition, state actors that are bound to protect child rights fail to do so because they do not attend to children’s stories of their own lives.
We aim to empower teens and young adults to share their stories and promote alternative childcare through a new media tool. A platform on which youth can share positive and negative stories about institutions or other alternative care will spark discussion about systems in which child rights are upheld or violated. Young people will be able to connect directly to their state representatives in order to impact decision-making. Success will be children’s participation in their own futures.
With the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies we will create an online platform on which youth can share their experiences in all types of alternative care systems across the Black Sea Neighborhood. Through direct connections to decision makers and influential state bodies, youth will advocate for policies that directly affect them. The platform will be piloted in Armenia and expanded to all ChildPact countries.
A second component will include a video about the advantages of family-based care (adoption, guardianship, foster care) over institutions. The Armenia CPN will work with ChildPact to create and promote the video for a huge audience. By marketing the video to the general public, we will raise awareness about the negative impact of institutionalization on all of society.
Teens and young adults who have been institutionalized are the primary target group. The second target group is state authorities, who will be reached through the platform to base decisions on the best interests of child constituents.
CPNs across the Black Sea Neighborhood will act as watchdogs of state authorities, ensuring that authorities consider youth stories. The public at large will be informed of the issue of institutionalization to raise their awareness and involvement.
The proposed platform creates a common space for children from different countries to come together and share experiences of their lives in institutions. With the psychosocial peer support provided by meeting others who have similar experiences, youth-friendly resources to educate themselves on issues that impact them and support from CPNs in their own countries, youth will be empowered to advocate on their own behalf. Such a space, virtual or real, is unheard of in this region.
Funding requested from Advocate Europe
Animator in ten countries: 5000 Local coordinator in ten countries: 15000 Media Consultant: 3000 Project Manager: 3600 Financial Manager: 600 Platform creation: 3500 Creation of child rights resources and tools: 5000 Translation: 6000 Transportation: 5000 Launch event in multiple countries: 3000
Do you see these tools as effective methods of advocacy? Do you have any suggestions for web tools we could add to the platform that would be useful? Do you have any suggestions for effective ways to engage institutionalized youth in the online platform?