The number of small children in state social care centres in Latvia has declined significantly. While one year ago there were approximately 80 children under the age of three in this category, their number was cut down by half by November 2017. At the moment there are 17 children under the age of three in orphanages, as reported by Welfare Ministry.
The institution underlines that the continued reduction of small children in orphanages and the shortened period of time they spend there – an average of two weeks – is positive. If a child has health problems, this period is longer. Some children live in orphanages on a regular basis.
Welfare Minister Jānis Reirs: «We see that the opinion of our society has changed so much over the course of the year. Not long ago residents believed that orphanages are needed, that they keep children warm and fed. Now, on the other hand, more and more people say guardians and foster families are far more important. No matter how pretty the orphanage, how friendly the staff is and how great toys are, such institutions cannot possibly provide children the much-needed family environment. Not because they would not, rather because such an institution is not meant to provide something like that. Now society has said a strict ‘no’ to orphanages. We plan to have liquidated these institutions in our country by 2021.»
Following society’s initiative, Welfare Ministry made social care centres more accessible and open last autumn. This helped change public opinion in favour of family care.