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Children with Disabilities in Adversity: Institutions and the Protection of Family Life in the context of COVID19 and in sustainable development- COSP13 Side Event
4 Dec 2020 -  Host organizations & presenters:

Eric Rosenthal, Disability Rights International, moderator

Miroslava-Mima Ivanovic, European Network on Independent Living Youth Network Board

Steven Allen, Validity


Amalia Gamio, Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Prof. Marinus van IJzendoorn, Erasmus University, Rotterdam & Lancet Commission on Institutionalization and Deinstitutionalization of Children

Philip Goldman, Maestral/Changing the Way We Care

Sarah Gesiriech, US Agency for International Development (invited)


Millions of children are placed in orphanages, residential care, and other institutions around the world where they grow up without the love and protection of a family.   The risks of growing up in congregate care are greatly heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic and urgent action is needed to protect them.  Infection is more difficult to prevent in situations of congregate care where children are dependent on staff working in shifts. Lockdowns have increased isolation and created pressures on families trying to keep children with disabilities in the community.  Human rights monitoring in institutions is also much more difficult, leading to increased risk of violence and abuse.  While immediate action is needed to ensure that children on congregate care receive the care and protection they need, there is a danger that pandemic response will lead to increased funding for institutions – inadvertently reinforcing segregated systems that will be harder to reform in the long-term. Article 11 of the CRPD requires protections during situations of risk – but it does not justify suspending the other obligations in the CRPD, including the right to  community and family inclusion for children. This panel will discuss practical solutions to protect children within the framework of evolving legal rights under the CRPD and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that apply during a pandemic and as part of long-term sustainable development.   Amalia Gamio, member of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, will describe the Committee’s Working Group on Emergency Deinstitutionalization.  Panelists will discuss research findings, programs, and strategies to ensure family inclusion that have proven effective -- including programs funded and supported by international development organizations.