Make our voices count | Report on children and young people's experiences of alternative care

Liselle Finlay Family for Every Child • 13 September 2021

Reference: International Institute for Child Rights and Development, 2021

This report details children and young people's responses to a global survey for the Day of General Discussion 2021 on Children's Rights and Alternative Care. A total of 1,188 children and young people aged between 5-25-years old took part in the survey to share their views, experiences and ideas. This report will help inform the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child Day of General Discussion on 16-17 September, more information about the day, and how to attend, is available here. Some of the key findings taken directly from the report(s) are shared below, or download the full report, child-friendly version or easy-read version attached.

Full report Child-friendly report

Easy-read report (PDF) Easy-read report (word)


group of young people with arms around each other

Groups that experience particular challenges

  • Children and young people with disabilities: talked about caregivers being trained on how to best support them, access to education, and the effects of poverty.

  • Girls and young women mentioned the importance of being treated equally, and having the same access to their rights as boys and young men.
  • Young people who have left care said how challenging it is to be on your own without financial, emotional or psychological support, and how they want help finding jobs and continuing their education.
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, 2-spirited, and intersex young people explained how they wanted to be accepted by caregivers and parents, and that they had fears about their safety.

diverse group of young people

Children and young people's ideas for change

  • Prevention: Children and young people want duty bearers to focus on prevention, ensuring that alternative care is a last resort and where all other options for supporting families to stay together are exhausted first. This includes providing financial support systems and material resources to alleviate pressures and working with children and young people to design and deliver inclusive parenting education, training and support (including psychosocial support).
  • Listening to children and young people: Children and young people want to be heard and listened to. All too often, adults do not consider their opinions in decisions being made about their lives and this needs to change. Provide consistent training and education for adults on how to meaningfully listen to and involve children and young people in their day-to-day lives, and emotional and practical support they need to have their say.
  • Good quality alternative care: Make sure parents have access to counselling, mental health support and respite services; prioritize keeping siblings together and keeping children and young people with their culture; and keep children and young people safe from harm.
  • Leaving alternative care: Children and young people must be psychologically and practically supported after life in alternative care so they can live happily in adulthood. Provide the kind of support that young people ask for, including financial, emotional and psychological support as needed.

"Children should be made to feel at ease as if they were in their own families and to be given all the maternal and paternal love they need.” - Young man, 18-25, Haiti

"Even if children in care don’t talk about their backgrounds, the adults still have a responsibility to help them maintain their identity.” - Young woman, 18-25 New Zealand


young person and covid-19 virus

The impact of COVID-19

This survey took place during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result children and young people described feelings of loneliness, isolation, anxiety, boredom, depression, anger, sadness and fear that the pandemic has brought into their lives.
In addition, they described situations in which parents and caregivers had died or become seriously ill from the virus, and the impact this has had on their care, wellbeing and safety - which need to be given special attention.

"For me, COVID-19 has impacted all of us in the sense that it has
reminded us all in a fraction of a second that we as humans cannot control everything in this life; at any moment we can pass away. We are all vulnerable and this doesn’t just happen to others.” - Young woman, 18-25, Benin


The Day of General Discussion is a public meeting that aims to gain a deeper understanding of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and how it promotes the rights of children in alternative care and those at risk of family separation, or already separated from their families. Registration is now open for the Day of General Discussion 2021. Find out more  here.

We also encourage you to watch more more children's views on alternative care and children's rights, in this post here

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