Key Highlights and Advocacy Points
On 1 September, over 95 per cent of the 5 million school-aged children in 14,175 schools resumed their education. UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) with an informational campaign to ensure children’s safety as they return to school during the pandemic.
UNICEF is calling on the Government of Ukraine to accelerate implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration. Children and teachers in 3,500 educational facilities are continuing to face daily violence as the conflict in eastern Ukraine enters its seventh year.
With the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF is expanding awareness communication on basic preventive behaviors, including wearing face masks and social distancing.
Following the recent decision to replace ‘baby boxes’ with monetary support, UNICEF is encouraging the Government to keep the Baby Box Initiative as critical childcare support for families with children. UNICEF research shows that 80 per cent of parents prefer to receive in-kind support.
UNICEF is concerned about the amendments to the National Strategy for Reforming the Institutional Care System that would result in boarding schools being excluded from the de-institutionalization strategy.
Overview of Child Rights
On 21 August, the Prime Minister introduced a decree with amendments to the National Strategy for Reforming the Institutional Care System for 2017-2026 and to the Resolution “On the Procedure for enrolling children for an around-the-clock stay in institutions providing institutional care and upbringing of children.” These changes could result in boarding schools being excluded from the de-institutionalization strategy and therefore efforts to find family-based care for over 80-90,000 children would be limited.
Further, it is not considering the fact that earlier this year the MoES made a decision to close most of the boarding schools due to the COVID-19 quarantine measures and around 40,000 children were “returned” to their biological families without prior assessment of the family situation and often with a safety and protection risk to children. In addition, the majority of those children with special education needs due to disability had no further access to online education.
UNICEF and partners are continuing to monitor the situation of children in five regions who have been returned from institutions to their families as a result of quarantine restrictions introduced by the Government in response to COVID-19.
UNICEF online webinars for social workers and child protection specialists have received over 155,000 views on the social media channels of UNICEF and partners. These webinars provide useful guidance on child protection risks during the pandemic, including on the prevention of child institutionalization as well as the reintegration of children from institutional care back to their families and communities, inclusive education, child safety, and so on.
New informational content and materials were produced and distributed to 30,000 social workers on how to use personal protective equipment and talk with families about COVID-19.
Over 2,000 social workers and child protection professionals in five regions were provided with personal protective equipment for safe working with families and children.
UNICEF is continuing to support the national child rights hotline, which is providing to be in high demand for children, caregivers and parents. During the reporting period, 2,473 beneficiaries received phone consultations, including 80 per cent of girls and women and 52 persons with disabilities. Twenty-four per cent of the calls relate to mental health and psychosocial well-being. Calls related to violence against children remain high at the level of 25 per cent, while 10 per cent are linked to family relationships.
With UNICEF assistance, gender-based violence (GBV) mobile teams in eastern Ukraine have provided over 12,000 phone consultations to people in need since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In August alone, GBV teams delivered 3,178 online consultations to people living along the ‘contact line’. Nineteen of the calls were from families of children who had returned from boarding institutions and 88 were from persons with disabilities. More than half of all reported cases are related to violence, and 14 per cent are linked to COVID-19.