Greece Child Protection System reform

Opening Doors for Europe’s Children campaign presented the EEG’s Toolkit on the Use of European Union Funds

Eurochild, together with other members of the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community Based Care, traveled to Greece on 13 July 2015 for a seminar on deinstitutionalisation (DI) reforms in Greece.  The seminar was attended by a broad range of civil society organisations, as well as local, regional and national authorities. The Greek government delegation included the Deputy Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Social Solidarity as well as representatives from the ministries of Health, Justice and Economy. Jan Jarab from the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and a representative of the Council of Europe were also in attendance.

Aagje Ieven, Opening Doors for Europe’s Children campaign coordinator, presented the EEG’s Toolkit on the Use of European Union Funds to the plenary and Mary Theodoropoulou representing Roots Research Center, a Eurochild member, drew attention to the joint Call to Action to the Greek government that was launched by the Opening Doors Campaign ahead of the seminar.

The presence of NGOs and some officials, despite it being a dramatic day for Greece, showed the government and civil society’s commitment to DI. The government recognized that there is a lack of state control over the complex institutional system in which many Greek children, including healthy babies, end up. It also recognized that there are many state pockets contributing to that system, and therefore a mapping was needed to be able to draw up plans to address the situation.

Risks and needs of DI

The seminar showed that a deep transformation of the Greek social protection system was needed to end institutionalisation in Greece and that there were many risks to the process: privatisation of services, cold closure, lack of coordination. A considerable investment into human resources would be needed and EU imposed bans on hiring civil servants were preventing recruitment of much needed social workers. The parallel session on children concluded that Greece must develop a specific plan, including targets, for the deinstitutionalisation of children, which should be carefully monitored and evaluated. The mapping, development and monitoring of foster care was generally considered to be a key puzzle piece in achieving this.

Next steps

Opening Doors national coordinator for Greece, Roots Research Center, will therefore continue to lobby for better data collection and a national plan to reduce reliance on institutional care, and for the foster care law that was drafted in 2014, to be approved by the Greek parliament.