September 27

UN Disability Committee recognizes groundbreaking rights for children

September 27, 2017 – Washington, DC – The United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has explicitly stated that every child has a right to grow up in a family, not in an institution or group home, in response to comments submitted to the Committee by Disability Rights International. 

“For children, the core of the right to live independently and be in included in the community entails a right to grow up in a family.” (para.37).  In response to comments on the draft submitted by Disability Rights International (DRI), the CRPD Committee states emphatically that “[l]arge or small groups homes are especially dangerous for children, for whom there is no substitute for the need to grow up with a family. ‘Family-like’ institutions are still institutions and are no substitute for care by a family.” (para.16(c))

“We are delighted to see UN recognition that all children need a family – not a smaller institution or a group home,” said Eric Rosenthal, Executive Director of Disability Rights International (DRI). “This new standard will have major implications for the way governments, international relief groups, and charities go about supporting reform abroad. The UN says it is not okay for foreign charities to fund new institutions for children. It is not okay to close down orphanages for some children and leave kids with disabilities behind. And instead of moving children from the big old orphanages to small new group homes – children must be given the support they need to grow up in a family.”

These rights are recognized in the sweeping new standards adopted by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD Committee) August 29, 2017 as General Comment #5. This General Comment is an explanation of the “right to live and be included in the community” under Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“Extensive research has shown that children need to form emotional bonds with stable caregivers – whether in their biological family, with extended family, or in a foster family. That is why it is so important to protect children and vulnerable families and stop any placement in institutions,” says DRI President Laurie Ahern. “This is also why group homes do not protect children. They are just another kind of institution.”

Disability Rights International protects the rights and community integration of persons with disabilities worldwide. See for reports, media coverage, op-eds, legal analysis, and information on our Worldwide Campaign to End the Institutionalization of Children.