Every child needs and deserves a nurturing family environment to grow up in, because it is in such a loving environment that a child can thrive and reach her/his full potential. But unfortunately, many children in our country are deprived of such a family environment due to a variety of socio-economic and inter-personal factors, including poverty, substance abuse, domestic violence and marital issues between parents. Children living in such family environments are very vulnerable, and are at risk of losing parental/family care. Most of these children ultimately end up in child care institutions (including children’s homes and rehabilitation centres) and grow up dispirited, with their hearts full of shattered dreams……. These children are met with such a plight because WE as a family, community, society or the State have given up on them, forgotten them or simply fail to notice and take action. Never Give Up on a Child’ is our premier advocacy initiative implemented under the international theme of ‘No Child Should Grow Up Alone’, in our drive towards the de-institutionalization of children in Sri Lanka. It aims to: Promote family-based care for children within the evolving definition of ‘family’. Promote family-based alternative care for children who have lost family care. Support the State to initiate a de-institutionalization process to prevent children from being placed in institutional care and re-integrate children who are already in child care institutions into their family where possible, and strengthen such families. Improve care standards in existing child care institutions. Contribute towards the development and implementation of a National De-institutionalization and Alternative Care (DiAC) Policy and Plan. Educate and engage all stakeholders including the public, civil society, media, corporates and the State in finding solutions to existing DiAC-related issues affecting children in Sri Lanka. Key Advocacy Issues There are 2 key changes that we are currently advocating for under the NGUC initiative: Keep siblings together when they are placed in alternative care, including in adoption – so that children do not lose the only remaining family they have….. Enhance the quality of human resources (i.e. care givers) in child care institutions – so that children in institutional care too will receive proper care and protection….. Call for Action! SOS Coordination Centre This is a referral mechanism established under the NGUC where we try to link vulnerable families with children at risk of losing family care, with service providers who can support them. We offer this service to prevent children from being separated from their families and being placed in institutional care. This is also an attempt at sensitizing the public and motivating them to take action to prevent the institutionalization of children. As a pilot programme, we currently offer this service only in the following 7 districts: Anuradhapura Colombo Galle Jaffna Matara Monaragala Nuwara-Eliya Call 0114 013 933 During 8.30 a.m.-5.00 p.m. on working days The Centre is located at SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka, National Office, Piliyandala “Talking” Bus Halt In an effort to raise awareness among the public of the importance of family care for children and about the service provided through the SOS Coordination Centre, we have opened a one-of-a-kind “talking” bus halt on the 23rd June 2016. This novelty will be used to sensitize the public about how they could get involved in preventing children from being separated from their families and being institutionalized. Galleries DiAC Pilot in the Uva Province In order to support the State to initiate de-institutionalization process and improve care standards in child care institutions, we are starting a pilot in the Uva Province in collaboration with the Provincial Department of Probation and Child Care Services (DPCCS) - Uva Province. This initiative is taken with the objective of developing and implementing a concrete and well-resourced plan for deinstitutionalization and improving care standards in child care institutions in one district in the Uva Province with the leadership of the DPCCS-Uva Province, by 2018. Thereby we aim to: Reduce the number of children who become institutionalized in the Uva Province. Improve the wellbeing of children in institutionalized settings/residential care in the Uva Province.