Replacing residential children’s institutions with community-based services, enabling children to live in families with appropriate support, is a fundamental principle underpinning Lumos’ work.
However, as with all principles, their application in practice - in the lives of children – is what really matters.
If community-based services are not monitored to ensure they reflect individual children’s needs and circumstances, they may be inconsistent and inappropriate for the child. In the worst cases, this may put the child at risk of abuse and neglect.
Equally, it is likely that if services are inspected rigorously, spreading good practice, their quality will improve
This is why Lumos has helped the Moldovan Government, to develop systems for regulating their child care services, supported by training and a system of accreditation to ensure consistent standards.
The Moldovan Government Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family has learned from models in the UK and elsewhere and adapted them to the country’s needs and requirements.
Previously in Moldova social care facilities did not have to be registered and inspections focused mainly on financial audits, assets and the state of buildings. The focus has now shifted to child protection and all children’s social services in Moldova, including those provided in its remaining institutions, must be accredited and meet set national standards before they are able to care for children or vulnerable adults.
The process to transform Moldova’s care system began in 2009. Lumos arranged for parliamentarians and officials to visit the UK to see not only examples of services that could be developed to assist ‘deinstitutionalisation’ (DI), such as foster care, but also how those services are regulated. They met with consultants and specialists in accreditation and inspection.
Lumos worked with the Moldova Government to create legislation, regulations and standards and establish the legal basis for a new Council for the Accreditation of Social Service Providers.
In November 2013 the accreditation scheme was piloted and in February 2014 the government agreed a procedure of accreditation. Guidance and a manual for inspectors were developed and expert inspectors recruited and trained with Lumos’ help, which included study visits to England. By June 2014 child care services, including small-group homes, placement centres and fostering services across Moldova were being accredited. Moldova acts as an example of how countries can create a new culture of child care that puts the needs and protection of children at the front of its objectives.