In Dialogue with Poland, Committee on Rights of Child Asks about Adoption, Foster Care and Institutionalisation

OHCHR

The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the combined fifth and sixth periodic reports of Poland under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, with Committee Experts asking about adoption, foster care, the situation of children with disabilities and institutionalisation.

Committee experts asked the delegation about a number of issues, including the situation of children in the legal system, and which rights pertained to them in the different roles they could find themselves in, as victims or as perpetrators. The matter of corporal punishment was one issue dealt with under that rubric. Experts also asked for details about support available to children with disabilities, both in the family and in the educational system.

Institutionalization, adoption and foster care were other matters Committee experts asked the delegation to delineate, asking for details on the system and procedure for institutionalizing a child in Poland, how Poland intended to improve its adoption procedures, and how the country intended to regulate the situation of children in foster care.

The delegation provided details of many initiatives and programmes aiming at improving the situation for children in Poland, stretching from an anti-domestic violence procedure identifying children at risk, to listing the ways children could access comprehensive health care. Much support to children went by way of initiatives targeting families with assistance, such as a new program called the “Polish Deal”, under which numerous social and economic benefits would directly benefit children and families with children, said Barbara Socha, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy, and head of the delegation.

The delegation of Poland consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Interior and Administration; the Ministry of Education and Science; the Ministry of Health; the National Commission for the investigation of cases of activities against sexual liberty and decency against minors under the age of 15, and the Permanent Mission of Poland to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will next meet in public at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 15 to begin its dialogue with Eswatini.

Report

The Committee had before it the combined fifth and sixth periodic report of Poland (CRC/C/POL/5-6).

Presentation of the Report

BARBARA SOCHA, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry, Head of the Polish Delegation, said that since the submission of its previous report, Poland had taken numerous measures leading to a significant improvement in the living conditions, development and upbringing of children. A policy of responsible development aimed at strengthening the family, as did financial support to families raising children. The latter was through a framework called the “Family 500+” programme. As a consequence of those interventions, child poverty in Poland has been reduced to a lower percentage than the European Union average.

Ms. Socha further noted that Poland began educational system reform in 2017. Among other measures, the reform extended general and vocational education in secondary schools by one year, made organizational and programme changes to vocational education, and provided for free textbooks. With respect to measures ensuring the provision of education during the COVID-19 pandemic, she stated that distance learning periods were limited as much as possible, and schools organised remedial classes to support children when they returned.

The Polish government had also introduced a number of new measures to curb all forms of violence against children, including a 2016 law introducing new measures of protection against sexual crimes. On the health front, Poland in 2019 had adopted a law on pupil health care which guaranteed equal access to comprehensive and systematic health care at school, including preventive health care, health promotion, and dental care. The same law also increased benefits for disabled children through the implementation of a Family Support Programme which provided assistance in meeting particular needs, including the housing needs of families with a disabled child. Poland’s 2021-2030 Strategy for People with Disabilities would develop solutions to ensure accessibility and improve the quality of inclusive education, support disabled children in their development, and popularize bilingual education for deaf children. Moreover, Poland informed the Committee about a new program called the “Polish Deal”, under which numerous social and economic benefits would directly benefit children and families with children.

Questions by Committee Experts

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