Demonstrating how Deinstitutionalisation (DI) can be achieved on the ground is crucial for our advocacy and we are delighted to hear that the last children have been moved out of the St Spiridon Institution in Botosani Count, Romania – the county’s largest institution, and the only institution for children with disabilities.The closure of St Spiridon marks a crucial milestone in the project run in partnership by Hope and Homes for Children Romania, SERA and the Botosani Child Protection Department, which will see the institution replaced with a range of specialist services. These services are designed to support families to care for their children at home or provide quality family-based alternatives for these children.
Botosani is located in the poorest and most densely populated region in Romania. When the work began, no services existed to support families and St Spiridon was the only real alternative for children with disabilities. 78% of the children in the institution were identified as having a severe disability and very few had any contact with their families.
However, a total of 119 children have been moved out of the institution since the project began – proof that Deinstitutionalisation (DI) is possible in the most difficult of circumstances and that family-like care is possible for all children.
60 of the children from the institution are now resident in five Small Group Homes for up to 12 children to provide a safe, family-type environment for children who need specialist care. The remaining children have either been reintegrated into their families or placed in family-based services such as specialised foster care.
Services have also been developed to support families and prevent children with special needs being placed in institutional care. To date, 260 children and young people have been prevented from entering institutional care.
The project will continue to focus on preventing children from entering institutional care in the first place, as well as continuing the development of the new services to ensure quality family-based services are available not only for the children who have moved out of the St Spiridon Institution but also for future generations of children who may need specialist support because of their disability.
Read more about the Opening Doors campaign in Romania.