ATHENS — "Greece is lagging behind other European member states in deinstitutionalisation. In other European countries, it is not only a best practice, but also a common practice," said an announcement issued by SOS Children's Villages on Friday, with central message "Every child has the right to a family" on the occasion of the World Children's Day on November 20.
More than 80 closed institutions operate in Greece, it noted, "without any institutional framework of operation, control or pedagogical criteria of quality care. These problems are chronic, with dramatic consequences for thousands of vulnerable children, as institutionalisation significantly inhibits their development."
The pandemic is aggravating these conditions, as the cases of abuse in families are increasing worldwide and more children in Greece are expected to end up in closed institutions, which are unable to adequately take care of them.
"The child protection sector in our country is currently at a critical juncture," the SOS Children's Villages said in a statement, adding that "a systemic change in child protection is needed, with the aim of supporting every family to stay united and every child in an institution to be in a family soon."
In the context of deinstitutionalisation, SOS Children's Villages support public bodies in the necessary promotion of sponsorship. The Child Protection and Adoption Structures Support Programme, a private-public partnership created with private resources in 2017, supports children and employees in 10 public child protection structures throughout Greece and the regions, in critical sectors that present serious deficiencies, such as child psychotherapy and support and training of child protection and adoption professionals. Within three years, with the support of SOS Children's Villages, a total of 200 children have been rehabilitated in a family environment.
An equally important parameter, the SOS Children's Villages underlined, is the empowerment of families to avoid their dissolution and the removal of children from them, and in this context there are similar programmes throughout Greece.