Inaugural Regional Family Placement Conference Held in Armenia
08 October 2023

In September, Care for Children was honoured to join the Armenian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MLSA) in co-hosting the first South Caucasus and Middle East Family Placement Conference. Held in Armenia’s capital Yerevan, the conference brought together around 200 participants including international and local experts, government officials, childcare practitioners, and NGOs to discuss the significance of family-based care for orphans and vulnerable children. We were delighted to have representatives from 10 countries in attendance over the two days, representing a significant commitment to put family-based care on the agenda of governments across the region.

Minister Mkrtchyan, the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, inaugurated the conference with a warm welcome to the delegates. He underscored the conference's significance as a prime platform for continuing the development of Armenia's family care programme, while also extending the invitation to other nations to embark on similar journeys. He enthusiastically encouraged all delegates to engage in collaborative knowledge-sharing.

“We are very happy to host the first of three conferences, which will bring international best-practice here to Armenia and help develop our family care programme.” Minister Mkrtchyan

Minister Mkrtchyan addressing the audience

His remarks, along with several engaging keynote speeches, imbued the conference with a tangible sense of promise for the work still to come. Keynote speakers included Mr Edward Timpson, CBE KC MP, Ms Zaruhi Batoyan, Member of Parliament and former Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, and guest of honour, Lord Laming.

In his keynote speech, Mr Timpson shared his personal journey and passion for family care, emphasizing the importance and impact on children of growing up in a loving family, and the potential consequences in later life of not growing up within this environment.

“I’m here because, like Care for Children, I’m a passionate believer in the power of family and community to help heal the vulnerable and bring stability, hope and love into children’s lives.” Mr Edward Timpson, CBE KC MP

Lord Laming, who has been a keen advocate of Care for Children’s work over the years, offered insights into the journey of improving child welfare in the UK and the importance of children feeling loved and secure within a family setting. The audience was encouraged to embark on a similar journey. Ms Batoyan highlighted the need for a different approach to childcare in Armenia, particularly for adoption, as well as emphasising the importance of raising awareness and providing better support to families and children in need.

We were thrilled to welcome a number of foreign ministers, ambassadors, and international representatives. Many of them shared insights about family care practices in their respective nations and underscored the value of knowledge exchange and collaborative efforts to enhance the well-being of orphans and vulnerable children worldwide.

Dr Hector Hajjar, Minister of Social Affairs of Lebanon

The conference went beyond speeches and presentations. Interactive workshops actively engaged local social workers and childcare practitioners, introducing them to Care for Children’s model and methodology for implementing family-based care. There was also a panel discussion that brought together experts from Care for Children to share the knowledge and insight they have regarding family placement. Local social workers had the opportunity to ask questions and discuss important issues they were facing.

“We are not alone. We feel heard and listened to. So many of our problems and challenges are shared by you and the countries you work in.” Delegate

We were also delighted to welcome two foster mothers who candidly shared their family care journeys with the conference delegates. They expressed their motivations for becoming family carers and delved into the challenges they've faced, as well as the numerous benefits they've experienced.

“I’ve been doing it for 3 years but I still need to be encouraged and motivated. My advice is for anyone who can do it, they should do it now, there is no better time.” Local foster mother

This first of its kind conference was a platform for sharing knowledge and international best practices and highlighted the global importance of family placement and family care. Delegates expressed hope and enthusiasm for the continued development of Armenia's family care program, with this sentiment echoed by many of the international delegations. We hope this extraordinary gathering will cement existing relationships while opening doors to many exciting new opportunities across the region. We would like to thank the Armenian government, especially MLSA, for hosting the conference and for their dedication to helping improve child welfare systems across the region.

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