Protection and Care
Reform over the past 20 years has brought significant improvements to Romania’s childcare system, notable the closure of large institutions, greater use of family-type environments such as foster care, an improved legal framework and the grouping of children’s welfare services under the jurisdiction of county authorities. However, the number of children separated from their parents and living in care is still very high – almost 70,000.
There are many factors. So far, the emphasis has been on protection – looking after at-risk children within the care system – rather than prevention – providing the necessary help to avoid the child being separated from its birth family in the first place. Local authorities are overworked, underfunded and lack the required training. Poor rural areas, often home to the most disadvantaged communities, have trouble recruiting competent social professionals. And many families are unaware of the services and benefits to which they are entitled. Meanwhile, more work is needed to provide quality care for children with special needs.
Efforts should also be made to change the old mentality from Communist times that a baby from a poor family had a better chance if he or she were given over to social services.