Gov't introduces changes to foster care system
The Polish government has outlined plans to improve the care system that now looks after some 70,000 foster children in Poland.
The plans include increasing the remuneration for foster parents, and the establishment of an improved database on where children in care are housed and where there are free places available.
"We have a system where we have approximately 70,000 children in foster care, taken from their natural families," Barbara Socha, deputy family and social policy minister, told Polish Radio on Friday. "Most of them, over 55,000, live in family units, with foster families or in family foster homes. However, there are still about 20,000 children staying in institutions previously referred to as orphanages."
"These institutions have changed a lot over the last several years. We have reached the standard of the so-called 'fourteen', meaning fourteen-person households, and last year the average was even thirteen children. However, for us it is still a too slow process. Hence the changes we are introducing."
The deputy minister said that these changes mainly concerned support for foster families, including almost a twofold increase in remuneration for foster families, and the development of the foster care system.
"We are introducing a register of foster families, children and independent people as a tool for local governments and family courts," she said. "We want the court to know where the place of residence of a given child is at the moment when the child is taken from the family and placed in foster care, such as an orphanage, and where there are available places in family care."
The minister pointed out that often in the region where a given child lives there are no places available with foster families, but such places are often available in neighbouring regions.
"The whole change is to give the courts a tool to be able to identify such places," she said.