The right to quality alternative care

For almost 70 years, SOS Children’s Villages has worked to help children who have lost parental care, or who are at risk of losing it. The UNCRC recognizes that these children have special rights to protection and quality care under articles 20, 21 and 25.

Children who have lost or are at risk of losing parental care are among the most vulnerable people in our communities to violations of their human rights. We promote and are guided by the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care for Children to which SOS Children's Villages made key contributions. The guidelines were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2009 and serve as international standards to ensure that children without parental care, or at risk of losing it, are adequately protected and supported.

As an organisation with vast experience in providing quality alternative care for children, we work in partnership with governments, communities and other relevant stakeholders to grow capacities to fulfill the provisions of the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care for Children. This includes supporting efforts to strengthen families so children can stay with their family of origin.

Standing up for children's rights

We stand up for children’s rights through a range of actions geared at ensuring that all children see their rights fulfilled so they can live in dignity and thrive:

  • We advocate for the implementation of children’s rights.
  • We inform and raise awareness about children’s rights and the challenges vulnerable children are facing.
  • We partner with other leading organisations and stakeholders to promote children's rights to achieve the greatest possible impact for children.
  • We share knowledge and shape discussions about improvement and innovation of alternative care.

All children have the rights guaranteed by the Convention, without discrimination of any kind.

“The child shall enjoy all the rights set forth in this Declaration. Every child, without any exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to these rights, without distinction or discrimination on account of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, whether of himself or of his family.”

These rights for every child in need are:
  • Development with dignity
  • A name and nationality
  • Access to food, housing, and medical care
  • Special care if handicapped
  • Love and understanding
  • A free education
  • Care in dangerous situations
  • Protection against neglect
  • Peace, love, and friendship
Open the tabs to the left to learn more about each right!
Declaration of the Rights of the Child

Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1959, this document established 10 basic rights of all children in the world. It served as the basis of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Convention on the Rights of the Child

The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child and opened it for signature and ratification on November 20, 1989, thirty years after the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. The Convention has been ratified, accepted or acceded to by 195 countries. Now, only two UN member states, South Sudan and the United States, have yet to ratify the treaty. The CRC is the most universally ratified human rights document in the world. It outlines the basic human rights of all children.

*Somalia and the United States have signed but not ratified the Convention.

Guidelines on the Alternative Care for Children

In November 2009, the UN General Assembly adopted the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children.

The guidelines are tools for those working directly or indirectly with children in alternative care. They seek to ensure that children do not find themselves in alternative care unnecessarily and that, when necessary, any available alternative care is appropriate for the child.

SOS Children's Villages, as a member of the NGO Working Group on Children Without Parental Care, was involved with the development of these now-adopted guidelines.

2014 UN General Assembly Resolution on the Rights of the Child

A coalition of over 40 international and national child-focused organizations and networks – including SOS Children’s Villages – is calling for the adoption of a thematic focus of the 2014 UN General Assembly Resolution on the Rights of the Child to be on strengthening family care and safeguarding appropriate alternative care for children.

2014 constitutes a critical opportunity for the UN General Assembly to address the issue of children without appropriate care as it marks the 5th Anniversary of the adoption by the General Assembly of the Guidelines on the Alternative Care for Children (A/RES/64-142).

Post-2015 MDG goals

SOS Children’s Villages advocates for the most at-risk children, young people, and families to be included in the next 20-year global development agenda (known as the post-2015 agenda).

As discussions on the post-2015 development agenda gather pace, SOS has taken an active stance in raising awareness of the importance of children's right to protection, in particular freedom from abuse, neglect, exploitation and all forms of violence as central to achieving the goals of sustainable development.

SOS Children’s Villages Publications

Right to grow up and develop physically and spiritually, free and with dignity

“The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. In the enactment of laws for this purpose, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.”

Right to a name and nationality

“The child shall be entitled from his birth to a name and a nationality.”

Right to protection, food, housing, and medical care

“The child shall enjoy the benefits of social security. He shall be entitled to grow and develop in health; to this end, special care and protection shall be provided both to him and to his mother, including adequate pre-natal and post-natal care. The child shall have the right to adequate nutrition, housing, recreation and medical services.”

Right to special care if handicapped in any way

“The child who is physically, mentally or socially handicapped shall be given the special treatment, education and care required by his particular condition.”

Right to love and understanding from parents or the government

“The child, for the full and harmonious development of his personality, needs love and understanding. He shall, wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents, and, in any case, in an atmosphere of affection and of moral and material security; a child of tender years shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother. Society and the public authorities shall have the duty to extend particular care to children without a family and to those without adequate means of support. Payment of State and other assistance towards the maintenance of children of large families is desirable.”

Right to free education, recreation, and a chance to develop

“The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages. He shall be given an education which will promote his general culture and enable him, on a basis of equal opportunity, to develop his abilities, his individual judgment, and his sense of moral and social responsibility, and to become a useful member of society.

The best interests of the child shall be the guiding principle of those responsible for his education and guidance; that responsibility lies in the first place with his parents.

The child shall have full opportunity for play and recreation, which should be directed to the same purposes as education; society and the public authorities shall endeavor to promote the enjoyment of this right.”

Right to be helped first

“The child shall in all circumstances be among the first to receive protection and relief.”

Right of protection against neglect, cruelty, and exploitation

“The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation. He shall not be the subject of traffic, in any form.

The child shall not be admitted to employment before an appropriate minimum age; he shall in no case be caused or permitted to engage in any occupation or employment which would prejudice his health or education, or interfere with his physical, mental or moral development.”

Right to be taught peace, tolerance, and friendship

“The child shall be protected from practices which may foster racial, religious and any other form of discrimination. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the service of his fellow men.”