The Greek foster care system has provided assistance in many parts of the world for children under the state’s care but nowadays remains almost inactive because of bureaucracy and a shortage of staff at the relevant authorities.
According to newspaper Kathimerini, the crisis has aggravated many of the causes that lead to parents being deemed unfit. The experts refer to the number of applications from municipal authorities for children to be taken into the state’s care has been increased over the past three years, but there are no hard figures available as there is no national register.
This fact alone and the numbers speak for themselves when it comes to gauging the extent of the problem. Twenty children were placed in foster homes just last year from the three state child services in Attica (the Mitera Center for the Protection of Children of Attica, Aghios Andreas Pedopolis and Pendeli Reformatory), while just 22 were taken into homes in the 2010-11 period.
In most other European countries, the maximum period protection services suggest that a child should remain in an institution is six months. In Greece, the average stay of a child in a state facility is six years. In fact, in most cases, they are released when they reach puberty and are then moved into orphanages where they live until adulthood.
The myriad of problems in the child care system in Greece were the main topic of a discussion that took place on November 20, organized by the Greek Ombudsman in Athens. Participants included representatives from 60 public organizations, nongovernmental groups that work in child protection, and experts. The aim of the meeting was to put forward proposals to improve the foster care system in Greece.