Creation of the State Children’s Service and the Council for Youth Affairs

21 January 2022
Creation of the State Children’s Service and the Council for Youth Affairs
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These days, our citizens are following not the new legislation but the attempts of the civilized world to stop the Russian aggression against Ukraine. However, Ukrainian authorities manage not to just negotiate with our Western partners but also to think about the future, about Ukrainian children and young people. And to make decisions. The Cabinet has corrected its mistake made during the decentralization by reinstating the State Children’s Service, and this is the right decision. The President, however, continues to meddle with the work of the executive branch. This time — by creating the Council for Youthful Affairs.

Creation of the State Children’s Service

Cabinet resolution #23 of January 19, 2022

Decision-maker: the Cabinet.

Who is affected: children, parents, guardians, custodians, local governments, and government bodies.

Background: in the process of decentralization, most powers concerning the issues of custodianship and guardianship were transferred to local governments that were supposed to create specialized subunits in their executive committees. The unified network of state regional offices that were in charge of these issues has been dissolved and the remaining part of their responsibilities was divided between other departments. Meanwhile, many local communities have not managed to create these specialized subunits, and as a result, child adoption and other processes concerning custodianship and guardianship over children are blocked there since the local elections of 2020. The prosecutor’s office addressed 164 communities with the request to do their job and create the subunits. The problem became so pressing that the Verkhovna Rada has created a dedicated provisional investigative commission. Based on the results of the commission’s work, the Parliament has adopted resolutions approving the commission’s report and recommending the Cabinet to create the State Children’s Service.

Summary of the resolution:

  • creates the State Children’s Service as a central executive body with special status
  • obliges the Ministry of Social Policy to prepare legislative amendments accommodating the creation of the State Children’s Service
  • orders the State Property Fund of Ukraine to find a building for the State Children’s Service.

What is right:

  • the resolution corrects a mistake of the decentralization policy: it will ensure the development and implementation of a unified state policy on adoption and protection of children’s rights, reinstitute the state as a key agent protecting children’s rights.

What’s next: legislative amendments have to harmonize the powers of the State Children’s Service with the authority of other government bodies and local governments.

Creation of the Council for Youth Affairs

Presidential decree #14/2022 of January 17, 2022

Decision-maker: the President.

Who is affected: the Cabinet, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and youth.

Summary of the decree:

  • defines key responsibilities of the Council for Youth Affairs:
    •  to enhance the mechanisms of engaging the youth in public life, to help with the development and implementation of the state youth policy
    • to coordinate the effort and cooperation of government bodies, local governments, and NGOs on the issues of youth policy and implementation of the National Youth Strategy until 2030
    • to participate in drafting presidential addresses to the people
    • to assist in conducting informational and educational events.
  • grants the Council the following rights:
    • to create working and expert groups, engage in these groups representatives of government bodies, local governments, establishments, organizations, institutions, etc.
    • to request documents and materials from government bodies
    • to participate in drafting bills on issues concerning youth.
  • approves the composition of the Council on Youth Affairs. Its members include representatives of the Office of the President, the Cabinet, the ministries, MPs, and members of the public.

What is wrong:

  • the decree is unconstitutional since the President has no authority when it comes to youth policies
  • the Council has powers that duplicate the powers of the Cabinet and the Ministry of Youth and Sports. This destroys the unity of the executive branch, hinders the development and implementation of a unified, systemic, and consistent state youth policy
  • the President has created one more body with functions duplicating those of the Cabinet. The practice of creating parallel government structures is dangerous.

Alternative solution:

  • the President has to address only issues where he has a legitimate authority: security, defense, and diplomacy. He should not interfere with the work of the Cabinet
  • the President has to dissolve all advisory and consultative bodies specializing in issues that are not under the Presidential authority defined in the Constitution.