One SOS Illinois youth recently spoke about her experiences with parental neglect at a dialogue on children without parental care or at risk of losing it.
SOS Children’s Villages International recently co-convened and organized an event around the topic of “Children Without Parental Care or at Risk of Losing it,” in partnership with International Movement ATD Fourth World and the Baha’i International Community’s United Nations Office. The event, which took place on February 14, 2017, in New York City, was sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations and is part of a series of dialogues in which policy makers, UN actors, and civil society explore ways to ensure how to “Leave No One Behind” in the implementation of development policies. The purpose of the dialogue was to bring different actors together to shed light on the issues faced by the often overlooked children and young people without parental care.
Sofia Garcia Garcia, SOS Children’s Villages International’s Representative to the United Nations, opened the event by stressing that children without parental care are one of the most forgotten and neglected groups of children by policy and investment. Ms. Garcia also added that until action is taken to protect their rights, no government will be able to claim success in their efforts to implement the new UN Development Agenda, Agenda 2030, and its Sustainable Development Goals.
SOS Illinois Youth Gives Voice to the Experience of Parental Neglect
To bring focus to those directly affected by this reality, and share the invaluable firsthand experience and knowledge that young people in this situation have, one SOS Children’s Villages Illinois youth was present to reflect on how lack of parental care has impacted her. Delphine, who has been supported by SOS Children’s Villages Illinois since she was 11, spoke about her own experiences, urging the pivotal role of governments in fulfilling their responsibilities to protect children in this situation through educational, economic, and emotional support.
“The government should have more programs for those who don’t perform well academically,” Delphine said. She also emphasized the necessity of encouraging children to pursue creative talents beyond academics and teaching young people life skills. Delphine offered this as a solution toward ensuring children are not left behind in their development and self-sufficiency later in life.
Why We Need to Listen to Youth Voices
At SOS Children’s Villages Illinois we know that emotional support and trauma-informed care is paramount for the children and young people in our care, as well as for the Foster Parents who take on the challenge of raising and caring for them. That is why we prioritize creating a safe, healing, and nurturing environment in our Villages. Crucial to our mission and this type of care is the act of providing a safe space that fosters dialogue, allowing children and young people to freely express themselves and talk about the challenges they have faced.
Voices like Delphine’s, which were heard and well received by the government representatives, United Nations Agencies, and other actors in attendance at the dialogue, should continue to be invited to be heard and magnified. Listening to the voices of young people who have experienced alternative care and can offer their recommendations and insights is essential for the betterment of all children and youth. As one participant put it, “expertise does not always lie with those who have a PhD and are considered specialists, but with those who have lived and experienced the issue first-hand.”
For more information on the “Leave No One Behind” dialogue series or SOS Children’s Villages International’s efforts to make the voices of young people heard at the United Nations for SDG implementation, please contact, Sofia Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org.