The early years of life, between pregnancy and the child being settled in school, are a crucial time for a child’s development. An infant needs love and care in a protective family environment to grow physically, emotionally and mentally into a well-rounded adult. However, high rates of disadvantaged families and poor care practices deprive many children of this protective environment.
Various factors are impeding child development in Romania. Still an important number of children are given overin public care – a practice not discouraged by the social, economic and political contexts. Many of the women resorting to this option have had no contact with a doctor or pre-natal care. Romanian maternity wards still often lack rooming-in facilities – rooms where mother and child stay together. This opportunity for early bonding can forestall separation from the child.
Social services for pregnant women at risk of abandoning their infants are not developed, and facilities like mother and baby centres and day care centres for vulnerable children are absent from rural areas, where need is often greatest. And the number of crèches and kindergartens has fallen significantly, while the cost of sending a child tocrèche remains prohibitive for the poorest parents.