Progress Made In Alleviating The Conditions Endured By EU Orphans

03 February 2011

SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith, has received assurances from the Romanian and Bulgarian governments that progress has been made in childcare reform.

Smith has lodged a PQ asking the Commission to stipulate the length of time it is taking for substandard children's residential institutions in EU member states such as Romania and Bulgaria to be closed.

Both governments have assured Smith that the protection and promotion of all children remains a goal of paramount importance and that they continue to implement a number of programmes aimed at helping children. Professional foster care was introduced in Romania only in 2001 yet by the end of 2009 there were already some 15,000 accredited foster cases across Romania. Hope and Homes for Children point out that 'it is important that people understand that there are now proportionately fewer children in institutions in Romania than there are in Greece, Italy or Spain.'

Smith said:

"The remarkable progress which has been achieved by the government and people of Romania and Bulgaria in recent years in transforming outdated childcare practices is often overlooked. For example, in Romania the number of institutionalised children has been reduced from over 100,000 to less than 12,000. It is important to recognise the firm commitment of both governments to the reform of childcare in their countries.

"However, that is not to say that the battle has been won. We continue to see reports emerging in the media  which are very similar in content to those which appeared years ago  outlining the horrific conditions of some children's homes. There are still children living in these institutions and they need to be removed with all speed.

"As the European Union is partly funding these closures and upgrades through the European Social Fund, I have lodged a PQ asking the Commission to provide information on the timescales it is expecting EU member states to meet and detail what measures are in place to ensure that these closures do take place within the allotted timescale."