Roots Research Center under the auspices of the Social Welfare department of the city of Heraklion, Crete, hosted a conference titled “Foster care as a good practice for social protection – practices in civil and penal code”.
According to a study conducted by the Roots Research Center, out of 3,134 children in care in Greece, only 309 children were in foster care in 2014. The event pledged important commitment towards investment in foster care and development of quality family-based solutions in Greece.
Addressing the audience, Ms Xeni Dimitriou-Vasilopoulou, Judge of the Supreme Court of Greece, shared alarming figures on the maltreatment of children in institutions. According to Ms Dimitriou-Vasilopoulou, 85% of the children who live in institutions for long periods of time experience bullying and violence, while 35% are victims of sexual abuse.
In the past two years, district attorneys offices in major cities of Greece face an increase in abuse and neglect cases for both local children and unaccompanied children, Ms Dimitriou-Vasilopoulou said. The prosecutors offices in Athens – she added – during the years 2009-2012 received each year 600 cases of children in need of urgent protection; in the period 2013-2015 this number increased to 950 for resident children only, excluding unaccompanied migrant children.
“Foster care should be the preferred solution when children cannot stay with their biological family. Greece is still relying on institutional care as a mean of child protection and this has to change immediately,” she concluded.
The event was attended by district attorneys and professionals in the law field, social workers, educators and therapists, as well as by representatives of the Children’s Ombudsman, political parties, religious groups and local civil society.
“We promised to open doors for children and we will do it”, said Mary Theodoropoulou, head of the Roots Research Center and National Coordinator of the Europe-wide Opening Doors campaign. “Today we saw the commitment of many experts in the field to working together towards the end of institutionalisation of children”, she concluded.
A strategy towards deinstitutionalisation, meaning the transition from institutional care to family- and community-based care, is urgently needed in Greece. According to recent reports, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare is working on a new legislation that is expected to be ready by the end of the year.
At the conference, the Roots Research Center also announced the opening of a Day Care centre on 10 October 2016. The centre will support and inform young people who are in care or are about to leave care.
Find more information about the Roots Research Center here.