Moldova has gone through a significant reform of its child protection system since 2007 reducing the number of children in institutional care from 12,000 to 2,214 and the number of institutional care settings from 67 to 35 by the end of 2015. Importantly, the Action Plan of the 2014-2020 Child Protection Strategy was approved in July 2016. However, challenges still remain, in particular, for children with disabilities and young children including infants. Lack of access to appropriate day care facilities, specialised or respite services for their parents, coupled with the insufficient level of social allowances available are among the main reasons for abandonment and institutionalisation of children with disabilities and children under the age of three.
Moldova remains the poorest country in Europe and children are separated from their parents mainly due to poverty combined with a child’s disability, single parenting and discrimination – Roma children are particularly overrepresented in institutional care. In Moldova, disadvantaged families have limited access to community-based services or inclusive education which often leads families to choose their children’s institutionalisation. Worrying, there is still the persistent belief of parents, professionals and decision-makers that the state will take better care of vulnerable children rather than children’s families.
In 2015, there were 2,214 children in 35 institutions in Moldova which indicate a significant drop compared to 2014 when 3,005 children were growing up in 40 institutions. Although there is no official data available for this year yet, according to the figures sourced from various official meetings, the number of children that remain in institutional care has further decreased under 2,000 in 2016. The majority of children that left institutional care in 2015 were re-integrated with their families. This re-integration, however, has not always been followed up and children rarely benefitted from the much-needed support of social workers when they returned to their families. Those families who have been reunited with their children have got access to social benefits, but not the full range of family support services.
Despite positive developments in the system of child protection in Moldova, anecdotal evidence reveals that some children are now being diverted to medical facilities for social reasons. Even though these facilities function as de-facto institutions, children who have been placed in them are not counted towards the number of children in institutional care. While the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Protection have accepted their roles in deinstitutionalisation process, the Ministry of Health has not admitted this yet, despite being responsible for the three baby institutions and the above-mentioned medical facilities (one of which is based in Tiraspol, Transnistria which does not fall under the Government’s control due to the territory being a self-proclaimed republic).
Unlike residential care settings, which have been mostly funded by the state budget, funding family-based and community-based solutions fall under the remit of local authorities. Due to the fact that underdeveloped regions in Moldova do not have the capacity to invest in community-based services nor to support disadvantaged families, there is no progress with DI reforms at the local level, with local governments remaining resilient towards transition from institutional to community- and family-based care alternatives.
FAST FACTS & latest developments
- There were 2,214 children living in 35 institutions in Moldova in 2015. The majority of these institutions are residential institutions, auxiliary schools and special schools under the Ministry of Education.
- There are 200 children with disabilities living in 2 institutions in Moldova.
- The number of children in formal care per 100,000 child population remains one of the highest in the CEE/CIS region: 1,826/100,000 in 2014.
- The number of children growing up in foster care families is continuously increasing in Moldova, growing from 282 children in 2007 to 981 children in 2015.
- In 2015 there were 91 children in 12 Small Group Homes. SGHs in Moldova operate by NGOs and they are adequately equipped and trained to meet children’s individualised needs.
- After wide public consultations, the Action Plan of the 2014-2020 Child Protection Strategy was approved in July 2016.
- CCF/HHC is implementing a project funded by UNICEF that aims to develop a comprehensive model for the prevention of family separation and DI of children under 3 and children with disabilities.