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Children need a good environment in order to develop in the best possible way. Sometimes this is no longer possible within the family because the parents cannot properly care for their kids. Deaths, chronic illnesses and financial problems can lead to children having to be placed in a home. But also addiction problems of the parents as well as cases of abuse in the family are sometimes the reason why children are no longer allowed to live with their parents. Like all kids, children in shelters or crisis placements have certain rights that must be protected at all costs. Whether you live in an institution yourself or know someone who is affected by this issue, this article will explain in more detail what rights children who are placed away from home have. By “out-of-home care” we mean all types of facilities where kids live when they are no longer allowed to live with their parents.
These Basic Rules Apply Everywhere
Other countries, other customs! This is also true in this case. However, there are certain basic rights that apply to all children worldwide. To ensure that they are not violated, social institutions must also abide by them.
Involvement Of The Child (Participation Rights)
No one may decide alone about your life. As soon as you are old enough to make your own decisions, you must be involved in them. Although the caregivers, parents and home directors have the final say. However, you must not be deprived of your right to participate.
The place where you are accommodated must be connected to sufficient medical care. If there is no doctor nearby or in the building, children’s homes usually provide home doctors who are on site at fixed times to take care of your complaints. In principle, however, you also have the right to choose your own doctor at the children’s home. This means that if you want to see another doctor, you must be allowed to do so.
Depending on the state home regulations, you are entitled to a certain space, which you may claim for yourself. This does not mean that you are entitled to your own room. Nevertheless, the home management must provide each child with a few square meters of space. It is essential that the premises meet your needs. There must also be child-friendly circumstances with regard to the furnishings as well as the surroundings. If the building in which the home is located is very old, then it must still comply with safety regulations and allow you to feel comfortable in it.
The home should be equipped in such a way that you can leave the building unhindered in case of fire – at any time of the day or night. In general, there should be nothing in the building that could endanger you. If children have to live in a dilapidated building, for example, this is against the regulations. Normally, every home has a kitchen as well as a recreation room with TV, games and books where the teenagers and kids can spend time together.
As long as you are a minor (in most countries this means under 18 years old), a supervisor must make sure you are okay. Therefore, you must not be left alone unless you are going for a walk or to the doctor or visiting family. If the children in your facility are also there on weekends, then a caregiver must be in the house during this time to talk to in case of emergency if you need anything.
Inspections By Supervisory Authorities
Every facility must be inspected regularly by a regulatory agency. The supervisors look at the premises very carefully and check that you are well accommodated there. If the home does not meet the legal requirements, then the home management must make sure that these errors are corrected.
Freedom Of Opinion And Information
Not only adults, but also children have the right to freely express their opinions. As long as no one is harmed by it and you do not offend anyone, you may not be punished for it. You also have the right to have free access to news and information that concerns you. For this purpose, most homes have Internet access that everyone is allowed to use for a certain amount of time each day. In addition, you must be informed if a new placement is planned for you or if anything else happens that is of interest to you.
Protection Of Privacy
All kids have the right to privacy. This means that no one is allowed to go through your private things. Also, neither roommates nor caregivers are allowed to read your text messages or answer your cell phone unless you give permission. Neither kids nor counselors are allowed to search your box or locker. This is against your right to privacy. However, if they have reasonable suspicion that you are storing harmful or dangerous items or substances, they may ask you to show them the contents of your locker.
Strictly speaking, pocket money is not a child’s right. However, according to the laws of most countries, kids in children’s and youth facilities are entitled to a small amount of pocket money, which they can use to buy something now and then or to pay for admissions to gyms and the like. How you use your pocket money is basically up to you. Whether your pocket money is cut because you have not kept to the house rules is a matter for the supervisors to decide together.
Non-Violent Educational Measures
Kids must not be beaten. Also, no counselor may touch you or threaten you with violence if you break the rules. No one may stop you from leaving a room. Counselors are responsible for raising you to be an independent, conscientious adult. Therefore, you may be punished if you do something that is against the rules or the law. However, although you must abide by certain things, you may not be punished by force. Also, you must not be imprisoned as part of an educational measure. This is against the law and is a form of violence. Non-violence also means that the caretakers in the home must preserve your freedom.
Free Choice Of Where To Stay
Speaking of freedom. Depending on the law in your country, you are allowed to decide for yourself where you stay after a certain age. If you run away and roam the city, that’s up to you after a certain age. However, the caretakers of the home will probably file an absconding report with the police. In any case, you may be punished for running away.
Right To Family Reunification
Refugee children have the right to grow up together with their family. If it is too dangerous in their home country for them to do so, then the country they are now in must take care of it. You can then file an application requesting that your parents be allowed to enter and live here. This is important because children need their family (especially both their parents) to grow up well. Out-of-home placement can never replace one’s own family. Because refugee children have mostly had traumatic experiences during their flight, they need a lot of attention, love and support. Reuniting them with their parents gives them the opportunity to soon stand strong and independent in life again and to overcome the terrible experiences and fears of the past.
While domestic children do not need family reunification, they do have the right to see their family on a regular basis. This is true at least as long as the family members do not pose a danger to the child. Regular contact can take place through visits by the parents to the home. If this works out well, kids are often allowed to visit their parents over the weekend to do things with them.
Providing Everything You Need
The home, its staff and management must ensure that you do not lack anything during your stay. In addition to pocket money, you are entitled to healthy meals, clean and intact clothing, school supplies, and opportunities to pass the time and participate in the social life of the city. In most homes, you occasionally go on outings with your caregivers, play sports with them, or celebrate your birthday together. Holidays like Christmas or Easter should also be celebrated, just as you are used to. The caregivers in the home are also there to listen to you when you have worries or problems. They have the appropriate training and must listen to your concerns. They also have to protect you from becoming a victim of violence. This means that you must not be beaten up, taken advantage of, or locked up by your roommates. If the counselors find out about it, they must make it possible for you to file a complaint. They are also responsible for your protection and must do their best to prevent this from happening again. That is why it is common practice in many homes that children are not allowed to keep dangerous objects in their rooms. This includes knives, tools, drugs, alcohol, sharp objects like scissors, and even deodorant sprays. The latter, in fact, can be used as flamethrowers and thus should not be underestimated.
Worksheet For The Text
1) Explain the term “alien shelter”. You can use the text to help you
2) Do you know the children’s rights of the UN Convention on Human Rights? Do some research on this topic on your PC. On our homepage you can find a detailed article about it, which you can also use. Then create a mind map about the different children’s rights.
3) Children’s rights are valid worldwide. Because they have to be observed, some things are regulated in the same way in almost all children’s homes in Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Which rights of children in institutions have you memorized? Write them down here in bullet points.
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