De-institutionalisation and Quality Alternative Care for Children in Europe: Lessons Learned and the Way Forward

Eurochild and Hope and Homes for Children

This paper by Eurochild and Hopes and Homes for Children aims to raise awareness on the perverse effects of institutionalisation on children and it calls for comprehensive system reforms, starting with a transition towards family and community-based care. The UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children clearly speak in favour of such evolution: “where large residential care facilities (institutions) remain, alternatives should be developed in the context of an overall de-institutionalisation strategy, with precise goals and objectives, which will allow for their progressive elimination.

It provides an overview of  de-institutionalisation in the European context, argues why remaining children's institutions in Europe should close, including presenting the evidence from child development literature and neuroscience, highlights the human rights framework and EU commitments applicable to this and the long term cost-effectiveness of reforms. Finally it articulates a way forward, with prevention and quality alternatives at the centre, including country level lessons learnt that demonstrate how deinstitutionalisation can be achieved in practice.

This Working Paper was first written in 2012 by Michela Costa (Eurochild Policy Officer) with valuable inputs from Eurochild members. Revisions done in 2014, by Miriana Giraldi, with valuable input from ERGO Network.