The Department of Community Development (DCD) in Abu Dhabi has announced the formation of the ‘Family and Child Protection Committee’ which aims to protect families and children as well as evaluate Abu Dhabi’s systems and processes related to addressing their concerns. The announcement was made coinciding with the ‘Emirati Children’s Day’ which is being celebrated every year on March 15, in line with the Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 concerning child rights.

The UAE’s wise leadership has given importance to the ‘Emirati Children's Day’ as they believe that children are tomorrow’s youth who will play key roles in achieving sustainable development in all areas of life. H.E. Dr. Bushra Al Mulla, Executive Director of Community Development Sector at DCD and Head of Family and Child Protection Committee, noted the UAE’s key milestones achieved in 2020, particularly the establishment of the first ‘Emirati Children's Parliament’ which aims to increase the participation of children in general and social issues that concern their wellbeing.

She said that the parliament was launched following the agreement signed between the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood (SCMC) and the Federal National Council (FNC), in line with of the Political Empowerment Programme, an initiative of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. The programme, which adopts a consultative approach to encourage citizen participation in the decision-making process, demonstrates the country’s commitment to involve the young generation in efforts towards achieving development and to raise their political awareness, Al Mulla added.

H.E. Al Mulla made a remark on the formation of the ‘Family and Child Protection Committee,’ saying that: “The move is in accordance with our wise leadership’s ambitious vision and goals to provide support, care, and adequate attention to children and their families and ensure their rights are protected in line with the highest international standards and practices.”

“The dedicated committee for child and family protection has been formed as part of the DCD’s commitment and belief that children play a significant role in the society. The new initiative aims to help the Department jointly work with relevant authorities to review the current family and child protection system, identify the required enablers to boost the effectiveness, quality and efficiency of this system and strengthen coordination between all concerned parties to make necessary recommendations related to the urgent and serious social cases,” she explained.

Al Mulla further discussed the committee’s tasks which include conducting a comprehensive periodic evaluation of the Abu Dhabi’s family and child protection system; identifying all measures taken to support this system; analysing current gaps, weaknesses, and challenges; and developing recommendations to address arising issues. It will also be responsible for reviewing social cases in the emirate and discussing social trends that would need to be informed to the community through public and media awareness campaigns.

The committee will create action plans and submit proposals focused on ways to improve the existing family and child protection frameworks. It will also prepare annual reports that include recommendations on how to improve the processes in social case management and supervision and how to address the most serious, sensitive and complex situations.

Eng, Thamer Rashed Al Qasemi, Acting Executive Director of Special Projects and Outreach at the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA) and Deputy Head of the Committee, said: “In line with our keenness to broaden the capabilities of our partners to support holistic child development, ECA is working on ensuring children's safety and protection. This can be done by raising awareness about abuse and neglect, improving ECD workforce capabilities, enhancing child protection policies, and advocating for children’s rights.”

ECA has launched a strategic program aims to strengthen the child protection system from prevention to rehabilitation, by developing a unified child protection system for Abu Dhabi that offers coherent strategies for preventing abuse and neglect, reporting cases efficiently, providing treatment and rehabilitation as needed, he noted. Al Qasemi emphasized the committee’s role in bringing together relevant stakeholders to foster child protection and family support programs, elevating the role of family and community members in promoting holistic children development, and help creating a stable and safe home environment for children. In addition to standardizing child and family protection policies for the child’s best interests, the committee encourages parents and caregivers engagement in nurturing their children, promoting their well-being and developing their skills, Al Qasemi emphasizing the importance of the committee’s roles. 

The Family and Child Protection Committee has 13 members from various relevant entities, namely: Eng. Thamer Rashed Al Qasimi,; Dr. Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary for Care and Activities Sector, Ministry of Education (MOE); H.E. Abdulrahman Sayed Abdullah Al Balushi, Director of Department of Strategic Planning and Institutional Development, Family Development Foundation (FDF); Alia Mohammed Al Kaabi, Director of Family and Child Prosecution, Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD); Abdulrahman Ahmed Al Tamimi, Director of Child Protection Centre, Ministry of Interior (MOI); Dr. Omniyat Al Hajri, Director of Public Health, Department of Health - Abu Dhabi (DOH); Lt. Colonel Dr. Sultan Khalfan Al Yahyahi, Director of Social Support Centre - Abu Dhabi, Social Support Centres Administration, Abu Dhabi Police (ADP); Manal Al Dossary, Acting Executive Director of Planning and Strategic Affairs Sector, Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK); Iman Abdullah Hareb, Director of Social Protection Department, Ministry of Community Development (MOCD); Lt. Colonel Ahmed Mubarak Al Qubaisi, Head of Anti-Child Abuse Crimes, ADP; Mahra Rashed Al Qubaisi, Director of Care and Accommodation Department, Abu Dhabi Shelter and Humanitarian Care Centre (Ewa'a); Lara Hussein, Advisor to the Chairman of DCD; and Dr. Khawla Saleh, Senior Childhood and Youth Specialist, DCD.

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