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Overview of the Romanian child care system

How the child protection system in Romania developed

After the 1989 revolution, a start was made with improving the situation in child protection institutions but a fundamental reform did not take place until nearly ten year later. In 1997, the responsibility for managing the child protection system was delegated from the central government to Romania's 41 county councils. Thus, 41 County Directorates for Child Protection were set up, and they were charged with operational and financial responsibility for both the children in need and the institutions within their counties.. This new decentralised approach aimed to prevent institutionalisation by providing assistance to those families which struggle to support their children, and also to close down old style institutions, and to create alternative forms of care for children. A key event that marked the acceleration of the reform process in Romania was the creation of the National Authority for Child Protection and Adoption (later to become The National Authority for the Protection of Child Rights. This institution was able to (and continues to) provide the guidance and coordination of the reform process over this period..

In 2001, the strategy Government Strategy Concerning the Protection of Children in Difficulty 2001 - 2004 was adopted by the Romanian government. The strategy was inspired by the spirit of the 1990 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Romania ratified in 1990.

The strategy called for a number of radical reforms that would bring Romania up to international standards in child care. They touch on all aspects of child welfare and protection, with the main emphasis on changing the system from "institution-type" to "family-type" care. The three main types of activity that the Government strategy calls for are:

•  Bringing Romania 's childcare protection system in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by improving, completing and harmonising Romanian laws;

•  Preventing the separation of children from their families by developing support services for families in need;

•  Restructuring and closing down large-scale institutions and replacing them with alternative services;

Based on the efforts of all involved, the strategy aimed to ensure that most children in institutions will either be reunited with their own parents or placed with their extended family. In cases where this is not possible, they should be placed in an alternative protection system, based on the concept of "family type" care, involving either foster families, family type homes or adoption. A lot of the children in care are now in their teenage years and it is very hard to place teenage children in family type environments. In 2004, 77% of the children in care were between the ages of 10 and 17.





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