- 28 November 2013
Hope and Homes for Children, together with Eurochild and partner NGOs from Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, Moldova joined forces in the beginning of 2013 in a campaign officially launched in Brussels in June at the European Parliament.
The Opening Doors campaign operates at EU level and in 12 countries across Europe, calling on the EU and national governments to prioritise the transition from institutional to family-based care.
We say „stop” to children’s institutionalisation and ask national governments to invest in developing programmes and policies meant to protect and support vulnerable families.
On 28-29 November, Eurochild and Hope and Homes for Children are meeting with national partners in Bucharest to discuss progress to date and the next steps. We believe that the end of institutional care for children in Europe is possible and within our reach – putting the best interests of children back at the heart of Europe’s child protection systems.
The Opening Doors for Europe’s Children campaign shows clearly how institutionalisation is an inadequate use of public money, and how investing in children should focus on prevention and quality alternative care for those children who need it.
Hope and Homes for Children Romania coordinates the campaign in Romania. Active since 1998, HHC Romania has contributed to the reform of the child protection system at national level and the closure of 50 old style orphanages throughout the country by developing prevention and family-based care services. Its work enables children to go from care in old style institutions, where they don’t receive individual attention and affection, back into communities and families, where they have access to services and systems based on the concept of family.
Through HHC Romania’s efforts, as well as its partners’,
almost 5,000 children have been taken out of institutions;
12,345 children have been prevented from abandonment;
446 youngsters have been supported for independent living;
890 children have been helped in emergency reception centres and
over 5,500 personnel members in the child protection system have been trained by HHC Romania.
HHC’s objective is to support the Romanian authorities and professionals to eradicate institutional care for children in Romania by 2020.
- June 2013
DI Campaign- Opening doors to Europes Children
Roots Research Center is National Co-ordinator
Across Europe hundreds of thousands of children are growing up in institutions that are unable to nurture their unique potential . For many, separation from the parents could have been prevented. For others, a family environment could be provided within the extended family, a foster family or a family-like setting.
The goal of our advocacy action is to improve the quality of life of children and young people in, at risk of entering, or leaving alternative care across Europe by promoting de-institutionalisation reforms. We believe that comprehensive transformations of children’s services need to take place in order to guarantee every child a better life.
In Eurochild’s definition, de-institutionalisation primarily aims at:
• Decreasing reliance on institutional and residential care with a complementary increase in family- and community-based care and services;
• Preventing separation of children from their parents by providing adequate support to children, families and communities;
• Preparing the process of leaving care, ensuring social inclusion for care leavers and a smooth transition towards independent living.
Experience shows that de-institutionalisation is possible, but obstacles such as lack of political will, persistence of evident conflicts of interest, fear of losing jobs by the care professionals and a widespread tendency to stigmatise families in difficulty can hinder the process of change. Moreover, in many countries a significant barrier is the high cost of the transition from an old system to a reformed one.
The European Union could play a pivotal role by supporting and encouraging Member States and candidate countries to undertake comprehensive transformations of their child welfare systems. EU Funds (in particular the European Social Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and the Instrument of Pre-Accession) can be instrumental to progressively dismantle institutions and shift towards prevention and high quality alternatives. There have been several cases, however, where EU Structural Funds have been used to support the system of institutions instead of financing prevention and family/community based alternatives .
- October 2012
Fostercare treatment no punishment Eurochild Annual Conference Sofia Bulgaria
For too many children care does not address the presenting developmental dufficulties (emotional and behavioural) that tend to multiply as they enter a vicious circle of failed placements, poor school achievement and exclusion, poor social relationships and antisocial behavior. Some children and families require more targeted services and individual children with more complex needs will require specialist services. The Treatment Foster Care pilot project sits well with this framework as a provision for children and young people with complex needs and challenging behaviour who are unlikely to find stability without the provision of an intensive intervention that involves several key agencies.
The concept of ‘wrap around services’ has been defined by the Athens department of Juvenile Probation Service in cooperation with our organization at this pilot project “ Working together to provide one service to improve life chances for children and young people who are experiencing severe challenges in their emotional, social and educational development and face penalties or punishment’.
The case is referred to the Athens Juvenile Probation Service as both youngsters aged 14 and 16 were restless, had continuous conflicts with their mother and demonstrated delinquent behaviour. Their mother was herself raised in a conflictual and abusive environment where her father continuously mistreated her mother and herself. The boys’ parents had recently separated after a longterm emotional and physical harassment of the mother by her husband. The boys had contact with their father who deliberately used improper and insulting wording against the mother and was mocking at her for her religious beliefs, habits, lifestyle and ability to be a mother. The boys gradually became verbally harassing and physically abusive to their mother reproducing the behaviour their father had. The family had been collaborating with all kinds of agencies and authorities before arriving as a case of delinquency at the Juvenile Probation Service. They had received help from mental health institutions, Christian societies, NGOs, women’s organisations, consultants, teachers etc. The mother seemed to ask for help but to be resistant to any change and sought control of things even when told by professionals that she had to alter her approach to her sons. While supervising the two boys the Juvenile Probation Officer in charge, Mrs Hara Galanou, addressed the NGO Roots Research Center in order to seek advice and support in identifying potential foster parents who would want to collaborate with the Service and would like to cater for one of the two boys since at the stage of the enquiry the youngest boy was negative in such a prospect (to be placed under foster care ). At this point we have to explain that foster care as a reformatory measure namely as a measure imposed by the Juvenile Court had never been applied before although it was stipulated in the Greek Penal Code (section ‘Juvenile Delinquents). This was mainly due to the fact that there was no direction as to how to apply the measure, where to refer to identify foster families, there was no training for professionals in related fields so the measure had been idle since 2010 when the court decided to place the older boy aged 16 under a six-month- foster care and supervision of a lady who had been a foster mother before and belonged to the list of foster families held by the NGO Roots Research Center. This special foster care would be a weekend care and not a full time foster care since the boy was under the custody of his mother and would continue to live with the latter.
In the course of the six months period the problems identified were:
-the youngster continued to live in his abusive family with domestic violence issues therefore any interventions were not effective or could not be sustainable as any impact was affected by the return in the dysfunctional family
-foster care as a reformatory measure cannot be encouraged until the Greek government provides for benefits just in all other cases of foster care.
-foster care treatment cannot be encouraged if there are no resources allocated to the training of professionals who are called to apply it
-there should be a big pool of trained foster families, advertisements in the press and call for interest in the mass media
-there should be campaigns for public awareness on the issues of foster care.
The positives were that both boys developed bonds with their foster mother, socialised more and enjoyed what the average teenager would love to enjoy, went on holiday with the foster mother, assumed responsibilities through initiatives she developed. It is important to notice that neither of the boys abused the trust of the foster mother, nor did they harass her or mistreated her to the least.
The eldest boy with the support and help of the foster mother, developed his educational skills and 2012 entered University.
The youngest boy is still under the protection of the Probation Service and the foster mother, hoping and wishing for better time to come.
International Conference Association of Psychology and Psychiatry for Adults and Children APPAC
15-17 May 2012 Hilton Hotel Athens
17th May 2012
Chair: Theodoropoulou Maria
CHALLENGES OF THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM.
ΑΝΑΔΟΧΗ ΚΑΙ ΣΥΧΡΟΝΕΣ ΠΡΟΚΛΗΣΕΙΣ
Karkani Anastasia¹ , Theodoropoulou Maria²,
¹clinical psychologist doctorant Universite Paris8, The center for supporting motherhood, Athens, Greece
² Roots research centre, Athens, Greece
- 21 October 2011
Children’s Rights for All!
Monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child for children with intellectual disabilities
20 - 21 October 2011, Brussels, Belgium
The Conference venue: Hotel Bedford, Rue du Midi 135, 1000 Brussels
In December 2009, Inclusion Europe, Eurochild and the Charles University in Prague, embarked upon the research project ‘Children’s Rights for All: Monitoring the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child for children with intellectual disabilities’. The project results will be launched at the Final Conference of the project from 20-21 October 2011 in Brussels.
At this Final Conference, 23 national reports assessing the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child from the perspective of children with intellectual disabilities will be launched, together with the European Comparative Report and Policy Recommendations at national and European level to ensure better protection of the rights of children with intellectual disabilities throughout Europe. The conference will be attended by Representatives from disability and children’s rights organizations, as well as representatives the European institutions and other relevant European and international stakeholders. Confirmed guest speakers include: Maria Herczog, Member of the CRC committee & President of Eurochild, Maureen Piggot, President of Inclusion Europe, Richard Howitt, MEP and former-President of the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament and Roisin Fegan, Child Rights Officer at the NGO at the Children’s NGO group.
- 14 October 2011
'Children’s Rights for All' aims to analyse the implementation of the UNCRC from the perspective of children with intellectual disabilities, through national experts in 23 EU countries. Each expert has compiled a National Report, comprising qualitative and quantitative data, in order to give a clear picture of the situation in each country. The results of the project will be presented at this final conference.
More: www.childrights4all.eu. Please find the registration form and the provisional programme here. More information about the call for videos on children with intellectual disabilities that they would like to show/use during the conference here.
Roots will be there represented by Mary Theodoropoulou speaker on Friday 20th morning.
- September 2011
Children have rights
Rights such as the right to life and health, prohibition of punishment and beating, the protection against child labour or slavery and respect for privacy and family life are supported and protected by the Council of Europe and the United Nations.
Children are victims of every form of violence and are used as soldiers or workers. They are neglected, abused and murdered. This happens at home, in the street, in hospitals, on the internet, by the media and everywhere else where they should be supposed to be safe.
Children are vulnerable, they are not able to defend themselves and their voice is the last to be heard –if ever.
It is the duty of adults to take special measures for children's rights, particularly violence. No tradition, religion, economic or educational method can excuse torture, abuse, humiliation and other forms of violating the children’s dignity. Physical punishment at home, school or institutions has been condemned by legislation.
All professionals and especially those who are close to the children every day, such as teachers, pedagogues, social workers, doctors, lawyers, judges and police, have responsibility for the well-being of children.
Few children know what these rights are and especially their vital role for their protection. It is a fact that the children should have access to relevant information and be encouraged to participate in the processes that affect them. The situation of children has improved considerably thanks to the international cooperation which also prompted many nations of Europe to take drastic measures against child trafficking and for the protection of the victims.
The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 with the aim to defend human rights. It has 47 member states and the legal competency to enforce measures, thanks to the participation and cooperation of its members. Among the various legal issues the Council of Europe is promoting are:
• The right of children to participate in decisions that affect young people
• The right to education for children with illnesses or disabilities
• Direct measures for children without parental care
• Measures for internet use and secure online services for young offenders
• Social measures for education and rehabilitation of young offenders
• Measures for the social integration and education of Roma children
What I just talked about is well known to most of you; however, the issue remains how many of these rights are respected. Every day we hear about particularly hideous cases of child abuse, lack of basic living standards, child exploitation and cruel child labour, about Roma children with no access to education -mostly because of social exclusion rather than tradition- without medical care and, most of all, without a future. Our lack of interest in the rights of children, as an integral part of the society we created, and the lack of support for vulnerable families will be particularly burdensome for the future of children, as shown in the findings during our visits to the Special Youth Correctional Facility in Avlona and the Normative Shelter of Perissos.
Our cooperation with officials of the Normative Shelter of Perissos was particularly good. In the informative part of the programme we developed the rights of the children with a special reference to the Rights within the institution. Regulations approved recently by the Council of Europe and translated into Greek by our organization, in order to facilitate their understanding by children, will be analysed during the next meetings.
We mainly discussed practical issues, such as issues of everyday living and what would facilitate the daily interaction between the managers and the children. The dialogue covered both the aspect of Roof and program as well as the building of stable relations, which will be turned into 2-hour social and training activities on matters relating to children and employees.
We noticed that the lack of skilled human resources is evident. The struggle of committed officials to ensure a decent life for the children is not enough. The empowerment of children in all aspects, psychological, social and professional is necessary for their self-esteem and the enhancement of their future recuperation.
On the other hand, the support of the staff itself is of equal value and importance. People who spend hours bringing up children and taking all the responsibility of the problems in a very large, complex and inflexible family, on their own emotional cost, need also relief, support and reward for their difficult work.
We must support those structures by all means and as an organisation we are committed; however State is also accountable. Legal regulations for the improvement of living conditions, education and socialisation of the children and their reintegration into the society are not enough when the society rejects them.
We must work together to aware and educate not only the public but also the children themselves, to learn their rights and to fully implement them
Let us not abandon their dream for a better life, the hope that one day they will change the world. A desperate child is a lost society.
Speak up! is a 2-year project led by Eurochild on children's rights run under a grant from the Fundamental Rights & Citizenship Program of the European Commission.
It aims to address children's own views of their rights, the protection of those rights and their opinions on necessary national and European policy actions.
The children involved are particularly vulnerable due to their situation or characteristics, as these children most frequently experience rights violations and are less likely to be heard.
Roots Research Center is member of these organizations