Celebrating International Day of Families 2024

14 May, 2024

15 May is the International Day of Families 

Our work to keep more children connected with safe and caring families

In an increasingly uncertain world, impacted by conflict, more severe natural disasters due to climate change and a growing population, children are at risk, and they need a supportive, caring family structure around them. Often, this takes on the shape of informal kinship care. On this International Day of Families, we stand together with the global community to celebrate the family structure and the different shapes and forms that it can take in the face of adversity, especially as we navigate the increasingly severe impacts of climate change.

Children who cannot be looked after by their parents often live with relatives or friends of the family. This care is known as kinship care and it’s a form of care that is incredibly important in meeting the needs of children who are orphaned or forced to live apart from their parents. 1 in 10 children worldwide are living in kinship care, making it the most common type of care, after parental care. Kinship care can support the most vulnerable children and this needs to be commonly recognised.

As a global network, we have conducted extensive kinship care research

Today in particular, we stand united with kinship carers and the children and young people that are living in this form of care. In line with this year’s theme, we want to draw attention to the importance of kinship care, and the role that kinship care plays in our global efforts to mitigate and navigate the impacts of climate change. In all aspects of climate change research, especially when it comes to navigating emergency situations and looking after children who have been displaced or separated from their families, kinship care needs to be included. We need to encourage enhanced support for kinship care in climate change mitigation, emergency response, and disaster risk reduction strategies. We need to ensure that a kinship care approach is prioritised and recognised during these emergency periods, even with the enormous pressure placed on families. Furthermore, children and young people need to be made aware of the rights that they have to be looked after and cared for, no matter the context of their situation.

All children deserve the chance to thrive, and our research consistently shows that kinship care is often informal, unrecognised and under supported. Kinship care makes a crucial contribution to the well-being, development, and survival of millions of children around the world and it is the first option that should be explored when children cannot be cared for by their parents. Every child deserves a caring family.

“…as a young adult who has been in care my whole life, I am fortunate enough to have had that stability in my life growing up with my Grandparents. However, as I have gotten older, I have realised that this is a right that every young person in care should have, as it allows you to grow your own safe space and connection within that space.”

– care experienced young person, New Zealand

Our work

As a network of organisations, child protection experts and practitioners, we are working together to keep more children connected to safe and caring families – and we recognise that families take on different shapes, and all families need support. We have conducted extensive research into the importance of kinship care and how it can be supported, and released this as the first international kinship care guidance paper.

We also understand that children should have a say in shaping systems that impact them. That’s why we’re always in conversation with children and young people around the world who have been brought up in alternative and kinship care, to understand their needs and amplify their voices.

Our global guidance on how to support kinship care

This guidance explains why supporting kinship care is so important and provides principles of good practice and lessons learnt from across the world.

We have been using this guidance to campaign for better support for and better access to kinship care across the world, including over 40 examples of promising practice from our global community.

Listening to those with lived experience: our virtual gallery

In New Zealand, we’re working with local organisations to amplify the voices of children and young people who have grown up in kinship care and other forms of alternative care. By listening to the voices of those impacted, we can better shape our work in guiding global support for kinship carers.

Our virtual gallery has been filled to the brim with the voices and perspectives of young people in Aotearoa who have grown up in a care system that has failed to help them feel stable and thrive. On this International Day of Families, we invite you to take a look around – and to gain insight into the realities of what it’s like when you rely on the state, and a failing system, to provide you with a nurturing family environment.

The International Day of Families serves as an opportunity 

It’s important to use days like these to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase the knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families. In this complex world, kinship care families will take on an increasingly more important role and children and young people need to be listened to, so we can understand their needs in these different, shifting and complex settings.

Join our work and support families, children, young people and carers worldwide.

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