Bolivian Senate unanimously approves “Comprehensive Law for the Right of Children and Adolescents to Live in a Family”

La Paz, 31 October 2023. The Senate of the Plurinational State of Bolivia unanimously approved, in general and in detail, the Comprehensive Law for the Right of Children and Adolescents to Live in a Family. This law proposes modifications to the Child and Adolescent Code (Law 548) to include prevention, care, and support work for children and young people who have lost family care or are at risk of losing it. Now the law will proceed to the analysis phase in the Chamber of Deputies of the state.

The law was promoted by the President of the Senate, Andrónico Rodríguez, who requested support from SOS Children's Villages to lead the elaboration of the law, working collaboratively with Unicef, Save the Children, Child Fund, Alalay Foundation, World Vision, Ljm, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which are part of the Technical Group on Childhood and Adolescence. 

The approval of the law in the Senate is an important milestone in the history of Bolivia, which will support approximately 900,000 children and adolescents at risk of losing family care and over 5,700 who live in public and private homes, according to studies conducted by universities, development organizations, and the national government. 

During the 224th Ordinary Session in which the law was discussed, Senator Virginia Velasco commented, "We applaud this regulatory adjustment to the Child and Adolescent Code. (...) What wawas (children) tell us is incredible, how their parents ended up on the streets with drug addiction or how some children lived in alcohol and violent environments, looking for food in the garbage. These are testimonies that break one's heart. We are representatives of the regions, and we can seek interdisciplinary support (...) These advances, adjustments to the regulations, and legal gaps are important to work on from the central, departmental, and municipal government." 

Senator Andrea Barrientos emphasized, "I want to highlight the importance of this regulation; it is an advancement in the rights of children. And, of course, the state must play a role of effective control and budgetary work to strengthen it. This changes the lives of girls, boys, and adolescents." 

Also, Senator Centa Reck said, "This is a moment to reflect on the fact that childhood is truly the foundation of life. Everything that happens to a child, what is built or destroyed during childhood, is difficult to rebuild (...) I celebrate this step, and we must continue forward." 

The law purposes family strengthening social policies to prevent children from losing the family care. And in case they already lost it, the state and society can offer them family-like care alternatives, promoting a safe family reintegration and supporting their growth until they become self-reliant young people. 

The President of the Senate, Andrónico Rodríguez, in a meeting with the organizations that supported the law, said, "Congratulations and thanks to each one of the institutions that supported the law, and through you, thanks to all the members of your institutions. The commitment of the Senate's presidency is always there to help and work together for the well-being of children and adolescents. Now, the law goes to the Chamber of Deputies, and we will follow up." 

Indeed, the United Nations Guidelines on Alternative Care for Children and the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child to the Plurinational State of Bolivia regarding the international mandate of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) are applied in this law. 

The National Director of SOS Children's Villages, Alfonso Lupo, says "Losing family care is the most tragic event in the life of a child, and has a strong intergenerational effect, which also affects the entire society. From its work experience, SOS Children's Villages has contributed to this important bill that seeks to ensure that all Bolivian children grow up with the care and protection of their biological families, extended families, or in another family-like setting. We urge all sectors of society to join efforts to make the law a reality so that Bolivian children can live in a protective family."