Switzerland: Consultancy: Child Protection Specialist, ECARO, Geneva, Switzerland

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Jan 062018

Organization: UN Children’s Fund
Country: Switzerland
Closing date: 11 Jan 2018

UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to protect the rights of every child. UNICEF has spent 70 years working to improve the lives of children and their families. Defending children’s rights throughout their lives requires a global presence, aiming to produce results and understand their effects. UNICEF believes all children have a right to survive, thrive and fulfill their potential – to the benefit of a better world.

Duration of Consultancy: 01 February 2018 – 31 December 2018

Location: UNICEF ECA Regional Office

Reporting to: Regional Adviser Child Protection


Institutional care is widely understood by governments and civil society to be harmful for children. After decades of evidence-based advocacy and policy dialogue, many governments have led reforms to close or transform large institutions and replace them with family based alternative care (including foster care) and family support services to prevent children from being separated from their families. While there is still a need to recall the evidence, and re-assert the principles, there is no longer a global or regional debate about the need to reform child care systems away from institutions and towards families and communities.

Europe and Central Asia has been at the forefront of this momentum, with governments leading reform efforts. And UNICEF has been a key partner to governments and others in these efforts. Examples include: support to the development of the 2009 UN Guidelines on the Use and Conditions of Alternative Care at the global level, creating an agreed inter-governmental framework of principles and needed steps; intensive technical support to governments across the region to generate political will and begin the process of reform; convening of a high level ministerial conference to end the placement of children under 3 in institutional care (July 2011 in Bulgaria); the establishment and maintenance of TransMonEE (a regional database containing important indicators around alternative care).

In 2013, UNICEF commissioned an independent evaluation to assess the extent to which child care reforms in eleven countries[1] during the period 2005-2012 had triggered results for children. The evaluation concluded that: Across the countries covered, there has been a noticeable decline in the rate of children in institutional care. The rate of children in residential care has decreased the most in Bulgaria (by 41.5% from 2005 to 2012). In Moldova, the number of children living in institutional care was reduced by over 50% (over 5,000 children were placed into family based care). In the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the total number of children in institutional care dropped by 27.6% (2005-2012), while the number of foster families increased by 60% in the same period (111 to 178). The reform of child care systems in EU new member states (Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania) showed significant progress in creating a comprehensive legal framework aimed to contribute to the improvement of the quality of care.

The reforms, although moving well, require continued investment and momentum to ensure no child is left behind. Evidence and data show that children with disabilities have benefited the least from these reforms. A child with a disability in the region is almost 17 times more likely to be institutionalized than a child without a disability. As a result, approximately half of all children living in public institutional care in the region are children with disabilities – in some countries it is as high as 70 per cent. There are other countries in the region where progress has been slow overall, with little political will of governments to start important child care reforms. The region can be largely divided into three categories: 1) countries that have made significant progress, and require a final push to transform and close the remaining large institutions, ensure that the proliferation of unregulated orphanages is prevented, and accelerate the quality and availability of the relatively new family support services and diversified alterative care system; 2) countries that have demonstrated the political will to reform the child care system, but are still in the middle of the de-institutionalization reform stage and require intensive technical and financial support to continue towards a diverse, family-based care system; 3) countries that are at the early stages of child care reform, still have a number of large institutions for children, and require support to generate political will and new services to tackle the problem.

In all contexts, social norms around institutional care, especially for children with disabilities, is of particular importance. Closing institutions for children with disabilities and establishing high quality family and community based care and preventive services requires a multi-sectoral approach across health, education and social welfare – as well as intensive efforts at community level to overcome the stigma and discrimination associated with disability.

While de-institutionalization has been (and will continue to be in many countries) the entry point for reforming the child care system, it is not an end goal in and of itself. The process of de-institutionalization leads to diversified family-based alternative care services at community level (foster care, supported kinship care, small group homes), and to the further development of family support services (for example day care, social work capacity, highly specialized services for families such as counselling for violence survivors , mental health services or alcohol and substance abuse programmes). These services need to be maintained, improved and expanded in response to the needs of communities and families. Ensuring quality interventions requires setting standards, ensuring monitoring and support, and sustaining and expanding national budgets for these services.

For UNICEF the issue of child protection, including de-institutionalization and child care reform, is closely linked to broader social protection reform. Linkages between the two areas have been and will continue to be essential to successfully support governments in larger reform efforts that have an impact on child care.

The UNICEF regional office provides a comprehensive partnership and policy framework as well as technical support functions to these reforms. Child care reform and family support is a priority area for UNICEF across the region. The regional office has and will continue to lead the development of solutions and strategies for child care reform. Partnerships at the regional and global level are also particularly important. The EU’s groundbreaking Ex-Ante Conditions associated with Institutional Care, for example, were successfully advocated for in close collaboration with the European Expert Group in Brussels nearly 10 years ago. In 2020 these conditionalities, which prohibit the use of EU structural funds for institutional care, will be up for review. In close partnership with Oak Foundation, UNICEF is working to ensure that policy makers in the EU are aware of the importance of these conditions, and pledge to strengthen and extend them into the next EU budgeting framework post 2020.

Purpose of the assignment

Under the supervision of the Regional Advisor Child Protection, and in close collaboration with other senior advisors including Social Policy, C4D, M&E, Education, Partnerships, Communications and the focal point for disability, the alternative care consultant will provide technical support to UNICEF Europe and Central Asia Regional Office, UNICEF Country offices, and partner organisations in the area of de-institutionalization, alternative care / child care reform and the development of family support services.

Main tasks

The main tasks of the assignment are as follows:

  1. Work with a broad number of partners to collectively advocate for the extension of important EU mechanisms that support alternative care in the region and beyond. This work includes finalizing a key messaging document (already under development and nearing finalization) and planning its dissemination, including but not limited to the EU. Support UNICEF offices and partners in the region and beyond to take part in the advocacy efforts, and track their progress. Network with key partners in Brussels and establish strong channels of communication to harness resources across a range of actors to maximize policy advocacy impact and support to reforms throughout the ECA region. Participate in / develop necessary meetings and consultation in Brussels in cooperation with member states and other partners to discuss the importance of alternative care, the transition for institutional care to community based care, and the key asks for EU member states in the coming financial framework (2020).
  2. In collaboration with key countries in the region (and in close partnership with Social Policy section) develop and operationalize a clear work plan for 2018/2019 for the RO and country offices in the area of alternative care and family support services. Elements of the work plan will include regular reporting on core indicators; production of key guidance documents and/or measurement tools, including around child care reform and children with disabilities, as well as the role of small group homes; convening opportunities to ensure de-institutionalization and alternative care remain high on the political agenda; strategic research and data collection that can inform regional and global level thinking.
  3. Support the development of multi-country concept notes and donor proposals to advance the strategic agenda across the region; and related communications materials targeting the EU and other key actors that capture the results to date, and what remains to be achieved. In close collaboration with the Communications and Partnerships teams in the office, develop a set of multi-country concept notes for the region, and any relevant subsequent donor proposals. In addition, support the development of messaging material that can be used with strategic partners, including foundations and multi-lateral institutions.
  4. Provide technical support to country offices engaged in child care reform efforts across the region on an as- needed basis. In consultation with the supervisor, identify important technical support mission relevant to the work plan and provided targeted assistance.
  5. In close collaboration with the Partnerships section, support the development of partnerships with relevant foundations and advocacy groups to leverage results for de-institutionalization and child care reform; and identify and execute a convening plan for 2018/2019 that can help advance the goals. Develop strategic linkages with a diverse range of partners to advance the strategic goals of UNICEF around alternative care and family support services.
  6. Provide other support as required and requested by the supervisor, in line with the regional office’s response to alternative care, de-institutionalization, and the development of family support services. Any activities that may fall outside of the scope of the above main tasks.

Qualifications and Skills Required

  1. Advanced university degree in social work (preferred) or another relevant field
  2. Minimum 10 years of progressively responsible professional work experience in child protection, and in particular child care reform, at the national or international levels
  3. Expert knowledge of child care reform, including relevant instruments and guidance
  4. Knowledge of the ECA region an asset
  5. Excellent analytical and written skills
  6. Fluency in English (oral and written). Knowledge of another UN language an asset.


  1. Monthly work plan against the areas of work outlined above (Submitted by the first working day of each month)
  2. Monthly activity report against the areas of work outlined above (Submitted by the last working day of each month)
  3. Draft and Submit three concept notes on child care reform and any subsequent Donor proposals for finalization. Drafts of two concept notes (which will cover sub-regional sets of countries) will be due in March 2018, prior to the CP network meeting. Final versions of the two concept notes should be ready by April 2018. The third concept note will be due in July 2018.

Estimated Duration of the Contract

01 February 2018 – 31 December 2018.

Consultant’s Work Place and Official Travel

The consultant will be based in the ECA Regional Office in Geneva Switzerland. He/she may be asked to travel on mission in countries of the region.

Estimated Cost of the Consultancy & Payment Schedule

Payment will be made at the end of each month, based on the above-mentioned deliverables.

How to apply

Candidates meeting the profile are asked to apply online by 11 January 2017 and complete the profile form (duly completed profile form can replace P11 form). The following documents should be attached to the online application:

  1. Up-to-date CV
  2. Cover letter
  3. Quotation on the monthly fee and an estimation of the ticket cost in USD (if an applicant is not currently located in Geneva)
  4. Two recent references/evaluation forms/PERs
  5. Sample(s) of relevant work (if available)
  6. P11 form (if available).

Applications without the documents listed above, will not be considered.

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages qualified candidates from all backgrounds to apply.

[1] Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. **

How to apply:

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages qualified female and male candidates from all national, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of our organization. To apply, click on the following link

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