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Following the closure of old-style orphanages, Romania chooses family-type alternative solutions , as well as on the development of professional training for youngsters over 16 years old who have been "institutionalized" for most of their lives. Though financial means are not enough, considerable progress has been made in the field of child protection and the solution of placing children in a family environment is obviously a successful one
Agence France Press for Romania , September 22, 2005

"Bucharest turns to family-type solutions for its abandoned babies"

Gabi, 9 years old, and his sister Marinela, 11years old, are hugging their gypsy grand-mother who has taken them in with the help of the DPC Ilfov, who is now looking at host families as solutions regarding the abandoned children. After having closed down the last orphanage in Buftea three years ago, west of the Romanian capital, the Ilfov direction for child protection aims to develop with the host families the social and psychological monitoring, as well as the professional training of the orphans, out of which many are today antisocial teenagers or young adults. " We were lucky here, Ilfov is richer than other counties and we only had eight abandonment cases of newborns in the past three months", declares the DPC director Adrian Dumitrescu for AFP.

From his office in Voluntari, in the suburbs of Bucharest , the director is proud to present the day care centre and the centre for professional training of orphans, both recently renovated..

Today, aged 16 or more, the 50 youths of Voluntari were, for most of them, "institutionalized" according to the Romanian terminology, during the communist period of Nicolae Ceausescu, who had totally forbidden abortion and contraception. The state therefore "took charge" of the abandoned children.

The dictator had the objective of raising the population of Romania up to 30 millions by the year 2000. Today, it counts 21,7 millions. After the fall of the dictator at the end of 1989, more than 100.000 orphans were piling up in the centers, often sordid, and in that time referred to as "mouroirs" [a place where you go to die]. They are less than 30.000 today, mainly in new rebuilt and renovated institutions.

Today, according to Mr. Dumitrescu, "the orphans have difficulty leaving the centre, even when they are over 20 years old and have a job. They need psychological help to take responsibility for themselves". "Considerable progress" has been made in the past seven years for the child protection system, says Ana Buzoianu, a social worker in charge of monitoring children and host families. "But we lack financial means", she declares to AFT during a visit to Gabi and his sister

Marinela, the two gypsy children placed by the administration with their 54 year old grandmother, suffering from asthma, and who fears no longer being able to care for them if her health deteriorates. In the yard of her small well kept house in Ganeasa, a village half an hour away from Bucharest , the grandmother complains that she cannot buy clothes for the children or medicine for herself. She has an income of 140 RON (40 euros) from the state for her two children and with the small pension of her and her husband the family has a total of 560 RON a month (160 euros).

Yet, the children, rather happy, have clean clothes, good results in school and appear to be well nourished. The solution of placement in the extended family obviously gives results. Anyway, Romania had no choice, since the instauration of the moratorium blocking international adoptions in 2001, measure imposed by the European Union. The English baroness Emma Nicholson, European Parliament's rapporteur for Romania until last year, publicly rejoiced last week of the progress made.

"Romania has profoundly reformed [from top to bottom] its child protection system and has evolved from one of the worst systems in Europe to one of the best. Countries like Ukraine could learn a lot today from the Romanian example", says the baroness in a text published on her website.

Yves-Claude LLORCA, Journalist, director of Agence France Presse for Romania


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