FOSTER CARE FOR CHILDREN IN CROATIA Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Croatia FOSTER CARE LEGISLATION Social Welfare legislation (published in “Narodne novine" No. 73/97, 27/01, 59/01, 82/01 and 103/03), Regulation on criteria for practicing foster care and on procedures for issuing, renewing and cancelling foster parent’s lincence ("Narodne novine", No. 95/04 i 179/04). FOSTER CARE UPGRADING THROUGH THE IMPLEMENTATION OF LEGISLATION Regulating issuance of foster care licences – have to be revised and reissued every two years, Obligatory training of foster parents before placing beneficiaries, Reducing the number of children which can be placed in one foster family, especially children with physical or intellectual disabilities Families who foster HIV positive children have the option to perform foster care as a profession establishing family-type homes WHO CAN BE PLACED IN A FOSTER FAMILY? Children without appropriate parental care (parentless children, neglected children or children whose parents misuse their parental duties), Pregnant woman or a parent with a child up to 6 months of age. Exceptionally, if in the best interest of a child, a parent with a child up to 12 months of age, Children and adolescents with behavioural disorders, Children and adults – victims of family violence, Persons with physical or intellectual disabilities, Adults with psychical illnesses, Persons with alcohol, drugs or other substances addiction, Elderly and incapable people, HIV positive children FOSTER CARE DEFINITION Foster care has been defined as a form of care out of one’s own family, which provides housing, nutrition, care, upbringing, health, education and care of other needs of a beneficiary (a child or an adult). ROLE OF A SOCIAL WELFARE CENTRE Expert-team assessment of a foster family conditions prior to issuing a licence Issuing a licence Conducting training Preparing a foster family for the placement Preparing a beneficiary for the placement (foster care plan) Preparing a biological family Support to a foster family Supervision of a foster family’s work Visiting beneficiaries in foster families Working with biological family FOSTER CARE ALLOWANCE It is determined in accordance to age and to specific needs of a beneficiary (a base-line amount for social welfare allowances is 400,00 HRK) Preschool child - 360% of the base-line amount (1.440,00 HRK) School-age child - 400% of the base-line amount (1.600,00 HRK) Preschool disabled child - 400% of the base-line amount (1.600,00 HRK) School-age disabled child - 440% of the base-line amount (1.760,00 HRK) HIV positive child - 1250% of the base-line amount (5.000,00 HRK) NUMERIC INDICATORS Children without appropriate parental care – 1.684; Disabled children – 378; Children with behavioural disorders – 120; Children – victims of family violence – 10; HIV positive children – 3 TOTAL NUMBER OF CHILDREN: 2.195 FOSTER FAMILIES: 1.337 DIFFICULTIES IN THE AREA OF FOSTER CARE: Lack of specialised professionals in the area of foster care, General over-load of professionals in social welfare centres Insufficient cooperation between social welfare centres in the area of foster care Absence of data base on foster families and their capacities for placements Consequences of these difficulties: Foster families do not get sufficient and appropriate expert support, Foster parents are often left by them selves to face numerous problems, including ever more complex issues of the fostered children. ACTIVITIES OF THE MINISTRY ON THE UPGRADING OF FOSTER CARE Cooperation with UNICEF Office for Croatia and the Centre for Social Policy Initiatives in projects focused on the upgrading of foster care; Drafting the new foster care legislation Upgrading the foster care for children in Croatia UNICEF - PROJECT “EVERY CHILD NEEDS A FAMILY” PROJECT ACTIVITIES Establishing county foster care support centres Creating data base on foster families and fostered children Promotion of foster care at the local level Providing appropriate material conditions, education, monitoring and support to foster families fostering the youngest children (0-3) PROJECT OBJECTIVES Upgrading the quality of foster care for children in Croatia, by establishing county foster care support centres Education / training of professionals in foster care support centres Supervision in psycho-social work ( professionals in foster care support centres, Creating data base on foster families and fostered children in each county, Promotion of foster care at the local level Providing appropriate material conditions, education, monitoring and support to foster families fostering the youngest children (0-3) PROJECT IMPLEMENTORS Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Centre for Social Policy Initiatives (CSPI) UNICEF County foster care support centres – Professionals dealing with foster care from each social welfare centre in each selected county, – Representatives of residential institutions for children without parental care in each county The role of county foster care support centres Provide support to foster parents for children through: – Organizing and conducting initial training of foster parents prior to the first placement of children, – Organizing and conducting continuous further education, as well as support groups for foster parents and fostered children, – All-day phone counselling available to foster families – Creating data base on foster families and fostered children in each county, available to all social welfare centres in particular county, and to other counties if needed – Conducting coordinated and focused local campaigns for foster care promotion – Providing basic baby equipment and support to families which would decide to foster small babies. County foster care support centres get: Education (CSPI); Supervision; Support and monitoring (Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MHSW). PROJECT RESULTS 57 professionals engaged in 7 county foster care support centres All members of the county foster care support centres were given education and supervision Several local campaigns for promotion of foster care have been launched Data bases of foster families and fostered children have been created in all counties 35 support groups for foster parents have been organised and guided 14 support groups for fostered children have been organised and guided 597 new licences issued 294 children put into foster parents homes QUALITY ADVANCES THROUGH THE PROJECT Professionals emphasize developping of a new kind of relation with foster parents, with more reciprocal respect and consideration Foster parents stress the importance of support groups, where they can get expert support and, furthermore, are given the possibility of exchanging experience and support with other foster parents Upgrading the quality of foster care for children in Croatia CSPI - PROJECT “Training of experts, professionals and foster parents in the area of foster care in Croatia” Following organisations participated in implementation of the CSPI project: University, social welfare service and foster care agency from Goteborg, Sweden SIDA , University in Zagreb, Croatia Croatian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and social welfare services. PROJECT RESULTS 15 social welfare professionals were educated and subsequently conducted regional trainings for next 129 social welfare professionals working in the area of foster care, Handbook for training of professionals created, Guidebook for education of foster parents created, Swedish questionnaire for foster family assessment translated and modified. Upgrading the quality of foster care for children in Croatia CSPI - PROJECT “Supervision of foster parents” Following organisations participated in implementation of the CSPI project: University in Goteborg, Sweden, SIDA, University in Zagreb, Croatian MHSW and social welfare services. PROJECT RESULTS 35 social welfare professionals participate in the ongoing training to become supervisors for foster parents, Around 200 foster parents are supported through supervision, Professionals in training are also provided by regular supervision. NEW FOSTER CARE LEGISLATION At most 3 children can be placed in one foster family; Establishing specialised foster care teams in social welfare centres; Systematic education of professionals Structured foster care allowances Foster families register and data base DUTIES OF THE SOCIAL WELFARE CENTRE Establish a foster care team; Inform a foster family on characteristics of the person to be placed in a family; Act in the manner to fulfil the purpose of fostering in all situations and in the best possible way. Promote development of foster care in it’s field in accordance to assessed needs; Explain the purpose of fostering, criteria, conditions and the way of practicing foster care, to all interested people. Specialised foster care teams Developing foster care in the area of local authority of a particular social welfare centre; Determine the fulfilment of defined criteria and conditions, estimating qualifications and suitability of a family, issuing a licence; Organising and conducting education of foster parents; Continuous professional support to foster families Continuous monitoring of foster parents’ work Conducting supervision of foster families etc. FOSTER CARE ALOWWANCES CHILD’S ALLOWANCE FOSTER PARENT’S REWARD-FEE REGISTER AND DATA BASE The Ministry responsible for social welfare will constitute data base of foster families; Each social welfare centre is obligated to keep register on foster families and register on placed beneficiaries (for all categories of beneficiaries in the area of it’s local authority).