Dessi and B’s story: Poverty Drives Families Apart
For some families it is grinding poverty and the absence of any local care support that forces them to institutionalise a beloved child.
Lumos has been working at a national and international level in the Czech Republic since 2008, raising awareness of the negative impact of orphanages and other institutions in the country. The team provide consultation to governments and regional governments in order to improve the system of care for children.
Over the last 20 years, the Czech government has invested in the development and renovation of many institutions, and although positive steps have been made, a negative perception of deinstitutionalisation persists among the general public.
The Czech Republic is one of the few countries in Europe that places young children and babies in institutions.
A common perception of institutionalisation in the Czech Republic is that institutions provide good quality care. There is a lack of community-based outreach and family support services to help vulnerable families and absence of social housing. Children are often placed in care because their families face extreme poverty and are unable to cope.
Since Lumos has been working in the Czech Republic, the number of children in institutions has decreased from 11,200 in 2006 to 8,000 (2017).
The most significant decrease in the number of children in institutions occurred in the residential care homes for people with disabilities.
Initial improvements made in institutions were met with resistance. This was despite evidence that outcomes of institutionalisation for children were poor.
We began work in the Czech Republic in 2008. Our impact has been gradual, but admissions to institutions, and the number of children in them, have fallen.
We have demonstration programmes in Pardubice and Karlovy Vary to bring children out of institutions. On a national level, we have delivered advocacy to strengthen reform and have provided significant levels of social worker training. We have also provided technical help to reshape laws and decision-making processes.
From 2008 to 2017 we provided training to 6,550 professionals involved in the system of care for children in need. We teach them skills, which are necessary for the development of the system that stresses the individual needs of children during the process of decision-making, the system that minimizes the separation of children from families and their consequent placement to institutions, the system that supports the development of community-based services. We published several specialised publications and manuals for working with families in need and for evaluation of the situation of a child. Through education and publishing of specialised publications we support the improvement of services and work with children in need.
Admissions to children’s homes in Pardubice have reduced by 53%.
The number of children in institutions has reduced by 22% in seven years.
The numbers of children in institutions in Pardubice have reduced by 17%.
Change has been slower in the Czech Republic than elsewhere. But, provided the political and professional will continues and enough resources are allocated, it is possible that by 2020, there will be no more children in institutions in the Czech Republic.