From 2015 to 2021, we worked across Latin America and the Caribbean to support child care reform. We did this in close collaboration with our partners, including UNICEF and national and local NGOs.
Banner image: Care Leavers Conference in Bolivia, 2017
Latin America is one of the most unequal regions in the world. This has a big impact on all aspects of society, including social and economic mobility, causing many people living there to have fewer opportunities and poorer living conditions.
In short, inequality drives poverty.
The problem is that poverty and social exclusion are key reasons for children being taken away from their families and put in orphanages.
Child protection systems are being reformed across Latin America and the Caribbean, but placing children in orphanages is still common practice. We want this to change.
Read more about how orphanages harm children.
What we achieved
In collaboration with our partners, we worked hard to secure the right for children to have a family and community life. This involved:
- Developing and delivering guidance on child care and child protection reform across the region.
- Supporting the development of locally-driven family and community-based care for children.
- Engaging governments and civil society in the need for change.
- Driving reform through building momentum, sharing expertise and providing funding.
UNICEF Technical Exchange Chile Uraguay in May 2019
Some examples of our work include:
- UNICEF partnership: Our knowledge partnership with UNICEF supported governments in Latin America and the Caribbean to plan their own pathways towards child protection and care system reform. Together we held high-level government workshops in Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras and launched our flagship regional guide to support national reforms across the region: “Beyond Institutional Care: A Roadmap for Child Protection and Care System Reform for Governments in Latin America and the Caribbean”.
- Joint initiative with RELAF: The Centro de Excelencia por la Niñez (Centre of Excellence for Children), our joint initiative with RELAF, implemented a training programme for practitioners within the care system at national and local levels in countries such as Costa Rica, Mexico and Uruguay – with over 500 people trained in the first two years.
- Research and evidence: We championed research to amplify the voices of children in care and those who have left care, generating valuable new evidence on their experiences in the “More Independence, More Rights” research with Doncel, the Latin American Care Leavers Network and UNICEF.
- Influencing change: We worked hand-in-hand with national and local NGOs to influence change within their countries, from care reform in Brazil to foster care development in Tabasco, Mexico.
Care Leavers Congress: Reforming the child protection system, DI and alternative care” with focus on leaving care (Cochambamba, Bolivia 2017)
Source: Latin American Care Leavers Network /la Red Latinoamericana de Egresados de Protección
Why did we withdraw?
After a successful programme of work to drive care reform in Latin America and the Caribbean, we made the decision to withdraw from the region in light of the on-going impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and our decision to ensure that we were able to focus our capacity in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.
In 2021 we focused on forging legacy partnerships as we withdrew from the region, supporting our partners to continue driving care reform. Our legacy included the capacity development of DONCEL and the Latin American Care Leavers Network, and rolling out our regional roadmap, training and capacity building with UNICEF.
Beyond Institutional Care: A roadmap for child protection and care system reform for governments in Latin America and the Caribbean
Ending Institutional Care in Latin America and the Caribbean: Questions and Answers
More Independence, More Rights – Latin American Care Leavers Network
Whole Children, Whole Haiti: Inspiring Stories of Care, Family, and Advocacy for Children in Haiti