Special Representative concludes visit to Lithuania - “The country has seen the benefits of sustained investment in child protection and welfare!”
Vilnius, 7 June 2023 - On a three-day visit to Lithuania, the Special Representative commended the strong political commitment and investment in child protection and wellbeing despite changes in government. This includes steps taken to strengthen cross-sectoral child-protection systems, as well as significant progress made in the area of deinstitutionalization.
During the visit, the Special Representative met Government representatives, parliamentarians, civil society organizations, the Ombudsperson, and international agencies, in addition to undertaking several site visits to social services. The SRSG interacted with inspiring children and youth of different age groups, welcoming steps for involving children in policy-making processes and highlighting the importance of ensuring broader representation and inclusion of children from marginalized communities.
SRSG Maalla M’jid was highly impressed with the comprehensive National Child Guarantee Action Plan developed by Lithuania, which is the most effective way to combat child poverty and social exclusion that are drivers of violence.
The SRSG acknowledged the remarkable progress achieved in the area of deinstitutionalization, with 73% of children under the state care system currently placed in family-type alternative settings. She also welcomed ongoing efforts to develop professional long-term foster care in addition to short-term care arrangements, and scaling up innovative initiatives such as the multi-dimensional family therapy programme. Other countries in the region can learn from Lithuania’s deinstitutionalization process, as high rates of institutionalization continue to be a prevailing problem in the region.
“Lithuania has seen the benefits of investing in strengthening child protection and welfare. Investing in children makes economic sense. More than words, governments across regions must take consistent steps to protect children from violence. Investment in child protection doesn’t end in establishing strong legal frameworks or in the implementation of scattered initiatives,” said the SRSG.
As a concrete outcome of the visit, Lithuania will join the initiative involving Icelandic authorities, the office of the SRSG, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute and academia developing tools and practical guidance for assessing the high return on investing in cross-sectoral child protection systems.