17-18 December at the Centre for Child Protection “Our Kids” took place an International Conference on “The Role and Impact of Civil Society Organisations and Networks in Child Protection – European and Ukrainian Perspectives”. The event brought together more than one hundred representatives of civil society organizations working on behalf of children and support families from all over Ukraine and Europe. Thus the conference became a platform for exchange of practices in the realization of social policy between European and Ukrainian NGOs.
During the two-day conference was presented the experience of the National Network for Children in Bulgaria, the German League of Child Protection, Child Pact. 16 national and 9 international experts gave a speech.
During the event for the first time the Ukrainian Child Rights Network was presented to the public and the authorities.
From 4 to 12 December, were held 6 roundtables in Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Odesa, Lviv and Vinnytsia on “Status of Child Rights Implementation in Ukraine: Place and Role of NGOs”. These events were held in order to discuss the status and challenges for child rights protection at the national and regional levels, as well as to present the Ukrainian Child Rights Network, its goals, objectives and priorities. Thus during the round tables it was identified the issues and problems, which are challenging NGOs in regions, and the contribution NGOs can make by joining the Network.
At the beginnig of November, the Network Secretariat stated to work, which included Executive Director – Tetiana Nosach, and PR-manager – Margaryta Dolgaia.
Demo version of the UCRN web-site was was launched.
From 2 to 8 November, representatives of founding members of the Network made a study tour to Germany, where thay had an ability to find out more about the work of the German League of Child Protection and its internal processes, and to establish cooperation between organizations.
At this time, together with experts from the German League of Child Protection, lawyers and external partners started the development of legal documents for the Network. Parallel work was conducted to collect data base of NGOs.
Founding members received grant for the establishment and development of the Network from the German Federal Foreign Office.
During the meeting member organizations adopted the final name of the network – “Ukrainian Child Rights Network” (UCRN). It was decided to form database of non-governmental organizations in Ukraine working with children and youth. This database will be used to start a dialogue with many other organizations in Ukraine on the formation of Ukrainian Child Rights Network, to improve teamwork and communication between organizations with similar goals and activities.
The Ukrainian and international organizations and charity funds signed Memorandum of understanding on the establishment of a Ukrainian Child Rights Network. This document states main objectives and principles of the organization. Signatories were 7 organizations later joined by 2, so 9 organizations became founders of the Network, including: Child Well-being Fund Ukraine, The Ukrainian Foundation for Public Health, Rinat Akhmetov’s Foundation, German-Polish-Ukrainian Society in Ukraine, Hope and Homes for Children in Ukraine, Charitable Foundation «SOS Children Village», Magnolia, League of Social Workers of Ukraine, Partnership for Every Child in Ukraine.
In the office of the “SOS Children’s Villages” Ukraine was held a round table on “Prospects for advocacy and reform in social sphere” aimed at assessment of the situation in Ukrainian society and in particular in the field of social work.
During the discussion the participants agreed on a poor state of strategic planning of social policy, and on the need to create the body, which would unite representatives of NGOs working in the field of children’s rights. It was agreed that such a body should:
- include a wide range of experts, organizations, professional and client communities;
- act independently from public authorities;
- regularly monitor the sphere of children and families protection;
- act as an expert group in the development, adoption and implementation of legislative initiatives in the social sphere;
- coordinate efforts to implement reforms and strategies via public councils and lobby groups.
Common position was agreed on follow-up activities of public authorities working in the sphere of child rights protection, and paid attention to the opinion on interaction with public authorities with public councils. In particular, on participation in the development of regulations, the need for efficiency of the public assessment of such documents.
After the meeting a working group dealing with the creation of a national expert and representative coordinating body, its secretariat, powers, structure and leadership was formed, named “National Council of NGOs working in the sphere of child rights and family support”.
More than a dozen NGO representatives from the social sphere were involved in the process of the UCRN establishment in 2014. Several lobbying activities (press conferences, letters of appeal to the authorities, etc.) were performed.