Day of General Discussion | Children's Voices in Submissions

Liselle Finlay Family for Every Child • 8 July 2021

In the lead up to the Day of General Discussion, children, young people and experts from all over the world were invited to share their experience of alternative care or the child protection systems with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Family for Every Child, representing its membership of local civil society organisations, made a submission, and also contributed to joint submissions from New Zealand and Europe. Children's voices and opinions were captured throughout these reports - with their key messages included below. You can also read the full submissions attached.

Submission 1 | Family for Every Child

boy with a mask on


"When I heard about coronavirus, I didn’t feel good and I was scared for my family, me and my siblings" - Boy, 13, from Syria living in a shelter home for unaccompanied minors in Greece

Children and young people reflected on the impact of COVID-19 on their lives as part of Family for Every Child's submission. This included fears for their families and studies, but also gratitude by those who did feel connected and supported by their families. 

"The situation was not good at all [...] But everyone learned something good during this time. Firstly, gratitude for having a home, a place of safety, and a family to spend these difficult times with, unlike many other people who didn’t have a place to protect themselves, or a family to support them, or a job to earn a living." - Girl, 16, Colombia

Family for Every Child’s submission stresses the importance of locally rooted responses, exploring issues such as:

  • The care for sexually exploited children (particularly boys)
  • The role of kinship care
  • The needs of and care opportunities for children on the move and in detention,
  • Re/integration from alternative care

Read the full submission here

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Submission 2 | Strengthening Kinship Care in Aotearoa, New Zealand

hongi mother and daughter

"When we do things with our family and friends, that’s when I feel like I can do better and achieve my goals because I see us all doing it"  Rangatahi from Tūranganui-a-Kiwa*.

Building on Family's important work advocating for kinship care, the New Zealand submission explored this topic in the local context. Children's voices were captured via reports, like the above quote. Key issues raised in this submission include:

  • Overrepresentation of Māori children in care
  • Difficulties faced by at risk and vulnerable extended families
  • Children of incarcerated parents
  • COVID-19 and its impact on alternative care

Organisations involved included: Grandparents Raising GrandchildrenVOYCE – Whakarongo MaiTe Whānau o WaipareiraPillars and Family for Every Child 

Read the full submission here

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Submission 3 | Alternative care in Europe

young person at the computer


We're taken off our parents and put in unregulated accommodation. It's like they think we can just send for ourselves and it's not right. I faced pressure from the local authority to move into semi-independent accommodation when I was coming up to my 17th birthday. This was in the middle of the pandemic and when I didn't have a support network. Moving into a flat on your own at 16 or 17 when you don't know anything about living on your own can be really hard. Especially if you don't have anyone you can turn to for help

- Voice of a 17-year old, Together Trust (UK)

Further impacts of COVID-19 and young people were explored in a joint submission from organisations based in Europe. The following priorities and concerns related to children and young people in alternative care were tabled in this submission:

  • Keeping therapeutic care for children at the centre
  • Investing in the care workforce
  • Strengthening educational support for children in care
  • Supporting children at the age of 16 and above

The submission detailed the models of Family members responding to key priorities. Family members involved included: EPIC - Empowering People in CareMETAdrasi; Programma IntegraThe Mulberry BushTogether Trust and Family for Every Child.

Read the full submission here

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*Source: What Makes a Good Life? Tamariki and Rangatahi Māori Mai World Cohort Summary report, Office of the Children’s Commissioner, November 2019