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Human rights council against institutional care under seven

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Prague, Dec 28 (CTK) – A ban on placing children under seven in institutional care should be enacted, the Czech Government Human Rights Council has said.

They should only be sent to children’s homes and other facilities in exceptional cases, while the care should be provided thanks to help and services by their own or surrogate families.

The bill should be drafted by next November.

The government is soon to discuss the issue.

For years, the Czech Republic has been criticised by domestic and foreign organisations for the fragmentation of the care and a high number of children in institutions.

The Child and Family association said the Czech Republic was the last country in Europe in which it is possible to send children under three to children’s homes.

In 2012, the former government approved a strategy for the care for threatened children. Under it, children under three should no longer be placed in institutions as of 2014 and those under seven as of 2016.

The council demands that by the end of next November, the government should be presented with a list of changes to the legislation that would restrict the chance of a child being sent to an institution.

The ban is to take effect gradually. At first, it is to relate to the children under one, than under three and eventually under seven.

The drafters of the proposal stress that the ban does not mean the closure of all the institutes. They should be transformed into small homes.

“Some of the facilities still have tens to 100 beds,” the council said in its report.

Unfavourable situation of a family, its problems with housing and debts are the most frequent reasons for their children being sent to an institution.

A lack of services contributes to the problem, the council said.

The council said the existing system was fragmented and the provided aid inefficient.

The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry has said the number of the children under three in institutions has been continually falling. At the end of last year, there were around 1,200 of them, while the figure stood at almost 2,000 in 2010.

There were about 5,000 beds in homes for children with more than three years, with 4,300 children staying there at the beginning of November.

Some 8.2 billion crowns a year are spent on child protection. Over one half of the sum is sent to the institutions, but only one-tenth to the sphere of prevention.

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