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LN: Large number of infant care institutes burdens regions

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Prague, April 13 (CTK) – One third of Czech regions prefers to provide foster carers for abandoned infants, but despite this, they usually do not close the established infant care institutes, which then have few children and high operating costs, daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Friday.

This is why Labour and Social Affaris Minister Jaroslava Nemcova (ANO) wants to transform these institutes into smaller institutions of the family type, LN writes.

According to the data obtained by the Lumos NGO, there were 441 boys and girls in infant care institutes across the country early in 2018. It is their large number, though, that is often used as an argument for their continuation, LN writes.

In one half of the current infant care institutes, there are fewer than 10 children, while almost half of them are concentrated in those in Most, Prague and Plzen, LN writes.

The children’s number in these facilities is much lower and the regions could deal with the situation by supporting the families or placing them with foster carers, Lumos CR director Petra Kacirkova told LN.

The large facilities with a capacity of up to 120 infants, which struggle to create a family-like environment for the infants, are entirely out of the current trend of childcare, which takes into account all of the child’s needs, not just the health aspect, Kacirkova said.

Aside from the social and psychological aspects of institutional care for infants that speak for its abolishment, its funding is becoming increasingly problematic, LN writes.

For instance the children’s centre Domecek in Ostrava, north Moravia, is to receive the public funding of 2.7 million crowns per stay of one child a year, which is 222,000 crowns per child a month. In contrast with this, the state subsidy per child in the Klokanek facilities for children in need is set at 22,800 crowns a month. The pay of foster carers is 20,000 crowns a month.

The national strategy which was adopted by the previous cabinet in 2012 reckoned with introducing a ban on placing children under 3 into infant care institutes, which was to take effect in 2014. State-provided childcare, currently fragmented among the health, education and social affairs ministries, was to be unified. Although the country was criticised on account of the large number of children in institutional care by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and other organisations, former labour and social affairs minister Michaela Marksova (Social Democrats, CSSD) failed to push it through, LN writes.

The official statistics actually do not differentiate between the number of children placed in the infant care institutes and those placed in other facilities that are registered under them, or those who were staying in the institutes with their parent, LN notes.

Another statistical factor optically increasing the rather low number of children in infant institutional care is the fact that 200 children remain in it at present even beyond the age of four. This is why the Education Ministry runs children’s homes, where children are looked after by professionals with the teaching background, as opposed to nurses in the infant care institutes, LN writes.

By October 31, 2017, there were 725 vacant places in the children’s homes, LN cites Kacirkova.

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