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Every Child Needs a Family

The Importance of Growing up in a Family

Growing up in an institution is harmful to a child’s development. Significant progress has been achieved over the last few years on enhancing the foster care system in Croatia yet an unduly large number of children still grow up in institutions.

"In spite of all efforts and care that an institution aims to provide for a child it can never compensate for what these children need most: a family environment and sense of belonging."

UNICEF continues to advocate for the transformation of orphanages into daily and community centres where substitute family care is provided for children.

By means of education, advocacy, research and awareness raising amongst experts and the general public UNICEF focuses on stimulating the development of specialised foster care for the most vulnerable groups of children, especially children with developmental difficulties and the youngest children. UNICEF also advocates strongly for the enhancement of the foster care system in terms of continuous support, monitoring and education of foster families. Together with its partners, UNICEF conducts activities aimed at stimulating foster care in Roma communities.

Sarita and her husband Damir have fostered two preschool children, the younger only five months old. Although they have three children of their own they decided to provide temporary care in their home in Slavonski Brod for children without appropriate parental care. They did so because they believed that they were able to provide such children with the attention and family environment they would never have in an institution.

Sarita said,

"I would recommend fostering a child to everyone whose situation allows it and who loves children."

In order to prevent the separation of children from their families and to enhance parental competency, UNICEF has also been active in the field of improving expert support to biological parents and the development of support models for simulative and responsible parenting.

In 2015, in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth, UNICEF provided equipment for children worth 300,000 Kuna for 87 foster families who care for children up to three years of age. Depending on their needs, each of these families, who in total care for around one hundred children, received children’s beds, car seats, bathtubs, change tables, prams, highchairs, baby carriers and other equipment for the youngest children.

The ‘Every Child Needs a Family’ Campaign

In 2005, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health and Social Care together with Croatian Radio Television, Europapress Holding and Croatian Telecom launched a campaign to raise public awareness on the child right to grow up in a family environment. A free telephone information service for potential foster parents was set up for a period of twelve weeks so that those who were interested were able to obtain further information and to apply to become a foster parent.

  • There were more than 400 telephone calls and all potential foster parents were sent written material on the joys and challenges of foster parenting.
  • Those families that decided to continue did so at their local social care centre and underwent a training and evaluation process.
  • Social care centres registered 110 new foster parents who felt the impulse to share the love within their families with children who did not have the possibility to grow up in their biological families.
  • Through support provided for specialised foster care, two children with developmental delays left their institutions and currently live with their foster families.

A priority of the National Action Plan for the Rights and Interests of Children from 2006-2012 was to improve the level of protection for children younger than three years of age who if removed from their biological family or abandoned would be placed with a foster family rather than an institution.

  • 3,250,000 Kuna were collected for implementation of the programme ‘Every Child Needs a Family’.
  • ‘Every Child Needs a Family’ has won 12 domestic and international awards for creative marketing communication.

Meet Foster Families

Ignac Family

Publications are available only in Croatian.

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Updated: 25 May 2016
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