Lumos has recently completed a significant review of the current system of care for vulnerable children across a large area of Greece. The findings from this review have been used to plan the development of systems to support children, in partnership with government officials and stakeholders across the country.
The Strategic Review, based on a research model Lumos has been used successfully in a number of other countries, focused on Western Greece and Attica region, including the city of Athens.
It covered 544 children and adults in institutions at the time of research and 473 children and adults discharged from institutional ‘care’ in the past five years – a total of 1017 cases. Abuse or neglect, lack of parental skills and economic reasons were some of the most frequent reasons for children being separated from their families.
Lumos worked with its Greek partner, the Institute of Child Health, a government agency, on the review, which will provide the basis for planning DI in the relevant regions. The review covered a mix of State and privately-run institutions.
The Roots Research Centre in Greece has estimated that there are around 3,000 children in institutions Greece.(1) Some have very poor conditions, particularly for children with disabilities. There have been international and national media reports featuring disturbing cases of children in caged beds in Greek children’s homes. There is also growing concern that unaccompanied migrant and refugee children are ending up in institutions.
A meeting to share the review and support the deinstitutionalisation planning process, organised by Lumos and ICH in Athens from 28-30 November 2016 was attended by senior Greek Government figures, Greek child care professionals and representatives of Greek civil society. Mr Dimitris Karellas, General Secretary of Welfare, Ministry of Social Solidarity, said at the meeting: “While taking into consideration the needs of all stakeholders, we primarily focus on respecting children’s rights. Children need us to coordinate in order to live a full life. We want to be the first government to begin and conclude the DI process for children.”
With approval from the Greek Government, Lumos is running emergency intervention in the Lechaina Unit in Western Greece, home to children and adults with disabilities and regarded as one of the country’s worst institutions. The emergency intervention aims to improve conditions for the residents as a first step in the process of deinstitutionalisation at Lechaina. It is hoped that the Greek Government will commit to closing the Lechaina Unit and replace it with family and community-based services. Georgos Moschos, Greek children’s ombudsman, said at the Athens meeting: “If we achieve, for example, in Lechaina, then reform can proceed nationwide.”
(1) Roots Research Centre & Opening Doors Campaign. (2015). Mapping institutional and residential care for children in Greece.