The lack of adequate care and protection of children is a global crisis, with millions of girls and boys engaged in exploitative child labour or living on the streets, neglected or abused within families, or poorly cared for in institutions. Governments are primarily responsible for addressing this crisis and need to provide the necessary leadership to ensure the effective care and protection of such vulnerable children. Yet governments are failing to fulfil these obligations, and this failure is closely linked to the extremely weak governance of the child protection sector.
This suggests that those working in the child protection and governance sectors urgently need to work jointly to improve governance within the child protection sector. In relation specifically to the post-MDG framework, the analysis highlights the importance of goals and indicators for multiple elements of governance, and the need to ensure that such goals and indicators are being applied across all sectors, including the commonly neglected area of child protection. The indicators included below could be used to specifically assess the degree to which a good governance framework is being applied in the child protection sector:
Rule of law: Number of countries with comprehensive legal and policy frameworks (including enforcement mechanisms) aimed at reducing the exploitation, abuse and neglect of children.
Delivery of public services: Percentage of net budget allocated to child protection (and other sectors) service provision; number of professionally trained social workers per 10,000 of the population.
Accountability: Number of countries with child protection information management systems in place and publicly available; number of countries with child protection oversight bodies or mechanisms; number of civil society organisations active in child protection.
Overall, the poor governance of the child protection sector is an indication of a lack of leadership commitment to this sector, which has been impacted by the absence of any goals, targets, or indicators on child protection in the current MDG framework. It is therefore proposed that any future framework also includes the following overall goal on child protection:
Ensure all children live a life free from all forms of violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect, and thrive in a safe family environment.