The data sets on children in care, presented at the Opening Doors website, are provided by the Opening Doors National Coordinators from 16 European countries. The data is primarily sourced from official state sources; however, it is open to different interpretations and is not necessarily comprehensive. Many countries do not have a central database of information. The situation with children in alternative care is dynamic, and changes may not necessarily be captured in present data sets.
All reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the data when it was compiled. However, the National Coordinators, along with the Opening Doors International Partners provide this data as the guidance only and cannot guarantee its accuracy, timeliness or completeness. Nor can we be held responsible for its use.
Can data show the quality of care provided to children in care?
Data are important to show the trends over time within and between countries. Data, however, cannot show the quality of care provided to children. For example, an increasing proportion of children placed in foster care, compared to residential care, is generally recognised as a positive development. However if foster parents are not adequately trained, supported and monitored, the quality of care may not, in fact, be improved. Children can actually be at greater risk if there is insufficient oversight of the quality of care. The same applies to small group homes based in the community. They are usually better adapted to provide individualised care, but sometimes due to inadequate resourcing or staff training, they function as small institutions. In some cases, deinstitutionalisation has meant splitting large residential facilities into smaller units. However, this doesn’t necessarily imply an improvement in the quality of care, if the overall institutional culture remains intact.
The Opening Doors for Europe’s Children Campaign advocates for “high quality individualised family or community-based care for children deprived of parental care”.
Children deprived of parental care should grow up in family- or community-based care settings where they will receive the best possible care that will match their personal needs. They should have individual care plans subject to regular review and ending only when the long-term solution is found: reunification with their biological families, a permanent foster or adoptive home, or a successful transition to independent living upon reaching majority. Children in care have the same right as all children to freely express their views, to participate in decisions that concern them, to feel safe, and to grow up in a stable and nurturing environment responsive to their individual needs and aspirations.