Creating lasting change for children in alternative care
Lessons from Croatia, Greece and Poland
In 2020, Eurochild started a fruitful cooperation with Martin James Foundation to push for national child protection reforms. In the framework of this partnership we have successfully supported three organisations in Greece, Croatia and Poland through re-granting, tailored capacity building and technical assistance.
Despite the pandemic there has been significant progress in deinstitutionalisation reforms in 2020 in Greece. A deinstitutionalisation strategy is soon to be adopted. Public opinion has been shifting towards family-based care as the best care option where children can thrive. Eurochild & MJF national partner Roots Research Center has improved in recognition and influence at the national level by cooperating with public authorities and juvenile lawyers. Their holistic approach to work with and for young children and children in care, care leavers, and prospective foster carers has paid off. Their expertise has been recognised and valued by national and international stakeholders. For the first time, they were approached by public authorities to organise trainings for foster carers. The project also facilitated a future project for care leavers.
“It was a very successful project to help us getting noticed and respected.”Mary Theodoropoulou, Roots Research Center, Greece
Croatia has been facing many challenges to address the needs of vulnerable children, children in care and care leavers. The slow and opaque processes at the national level have limited the potential of available EU funding. Eurochild & MJF national partner, FICE Croatia has strengthened its capacity and performance by improving professional structures and developing online skills. They provided continuous support for foster families as new issues emerged during the lockdowns caused by the pandemic. Training on foster care standards facilitated by MJF fed well into discussions and preparation of amendment of the law on foster care to ensure better safeguards for children.
In order to push for reforms, the first ever strategy on deinstitutionalisation has been developed in Poland. Polish Foster Care Coalition, Eurochild and MJF technical assistance partner, has been shaping its content by participating in a preparatory committee and by organising online events such as a national conference that attracted more than 140 participants. They also contributed through online discussions about young children in alternative care, children with disabilities in family-based care, children with trauma and cooperation with municipalities to achieve best outcomes for children. The technical assistance project has helped Polish Foster Care Coalition to become more visible in online spaces and use it as a leverage in its engagement with national decision-makers. Moreover, it allowed the organisation to carry on other projects such as co-drafting a law on foster care.