Latvian minister wants more responsibility for the state in children rights protection

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The new children’s rights protection model will delegate more functions to the state, said Latvian Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča.

Justice Ministry together with Welfare Minister are committed to developing a road map before the end of 2019 to suggest solutions in order to form a new institutional model for protection of children’s rights. On top of that, according to Petraviča, soon enough work will commence on the development of a new model.

The minister said letters were sent out to institutions and organizations that may be interested in resolving this matter, including Latvian Association of Local Governments, Orphan Courts Association, and social services with a request to delegate representatives for the work group.

According to Petraviča, firstly both involved ministries have plans to reach an agreement for the outline for the new children’s rights protection model. Once this has been done, it will be possible to attract other experts to start working on the model.

The minister said that the new children’s rights protection model will divide functions that will not have to be performed by separate institutions. For example, orphan courts, according to Petraviča, will not have to perform notary functions. The new children’s rights protection institution could engage in decision-making processes, because it is important for children and their future how decisions are made, said the minister.

According to her, it is necessary to strengthen the social service so that it can work with biological families more actively. The minister said although seldom, but there are cases when it is possible to return children to their biological families.
Petraviča reports that the Children’s Rights Protection Inspectorate has started checking the children staying in the institution. Everything is being done to find a family for each of them.

The minister had previously voiced shock over the opposition institutions and municipalities have towards children ending up in a family-like environment, calling it an absurd situation. The minister intends to send letters to orphan courts and leaders of municipalities and invite them to appeal to their conscience and work on making sure children are provided with a family of family-like environment.

As previously reported, it is planned to delegate functions of orphan courts to the state, as well as form a new children rights protection institution, as journalists were told by Petraviča.

She noted that the current orphan court model as a function of municipalities has not met expectations and has not accomplished established goals for protection of rights of children. Currently there are state and municipal functions present in a single institution, which makes it difficult to focus on the most important objective – protection of children’s rights and interests.

This means one of the main directions mentioned by Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns and Petraviča is analysis of current functions of orphan courts and their division between the state and municipalities.

Ministers believe it is necessary to strengthen municipal social services whose operations could be aimed at identifying risks and perform early preventive measures.

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