Latvian minister shocked over situation with orphans in the country

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Latvia’s Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča is unpleasantly surprised with institutions’ and municipalities’ opposition towards orphaned children ending up in a family-like environment, saying it’s an «inconceivable situation».

According to the politician, during her regional visits and meetings with foster families she got the impression that the situation is only getting worse in Latvia. The minister is especially worried about this because the state invests considerable resources to make sure orphaned children find loving foster families. This funding is used to increase the number of foster families, guardians and adoptive parents.

Petraviča adds that Non-Family Care Support Centres have been provided with approximately half a million euros in the first five months of 2019 so that centres are able to hold different consultations and services to families that need them.

On top of that, 205 foster families, guardians and adoptive parents have been trained with 90 of them remaining childless even though there are more than 700 children in different institutions, adds the minister.
Initially she was confused with the situation. However, after talking with foster families, she had determined the main problems. One of them, according to the minister, is the lack of interest orphan courts have to find families for orphans. «A family comes to an orphan court, and the first question the family is asked – why do they need this, what they will do with the child, where they will put it,» says Petraviča.

She says that she found no welcoming attitude from child care centres either.  Petraviča says centres are more interested in keeping children in the institution, because children there provide wages and jobs to employees.

The minister says municipalities are also interested in orphanages continuing to exist but not in children finding good foster families or at least a family-like environment.
Petraviča mentioned that according to foster families interviewed by her, before meeting with the child, families are often told about all kinds of scary diagnoses the child may have. «They are shown a list of diagnoses, and nurses tell them about all possible diagnoses they had learned over the course of their studies. The say everything is usually fine, but on the second one the child suddenly starts using sentences likely taught by adults and says he doesn’t want to meet any more,» says Petraviča, who considers such a situation absurd.

On top of that, the minister says, there are cases when children are either brought to meet with their potential family with a four hour delay or are not brought at all. ‘All kinds of obstacles are put on the child’s way to being adopted. We can do anything we can with this, including increase benefits. Foster families, on the other hand, no longer mention financial difficulties, focus instead on difficulties with attitude,’ notes the minister.

She says all this information shows that families are no longer able to go to institutions on their own – it is often necessary to take with them a representative from the State Child Rights Protection Inspectorate or other institution. Petraviča stresses that every day she becomes more and more certain that changes are needed, including in general attitude.

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