EfVET attended to the event Opening Doors for Europe’s Children event “Maintain, Strengthen, Expand – How the EU can support the transition from institutional to family and community-based care in the next MFF” was held in the Charlemagne Building on the 20th March 2018 in Brussels. EfVET was able to raise awareness about the LOST project (Learning Opportunities, Instruments and Investigation Techniques to fight the growing phenomenon of missing people in Europe), which offers training for risk groups and operators involved the area of action of the response to disappearances where different kind of professionals are working on cases of missing children and adults would benefit from receiving specific training and support. If you are interested in taking a closer look at the project, you can visit the project’s website here.

The event was divided into two main sessions. First of all, the event touched on the EU’s added value in supporting the transition from institutional to family and community-based care. As Casten Ramussen from the EU Commission Regional Policy stated, deinstitutionalization reforms are fragile and we need stronger international advocacy. In addition, the Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Labour & Social Policy, Zornitsa Roussinova, stated the following: “Recipe for successful deinstitutionalisation? Work, work, work”, adding that strong collaboration between EU authorities, national governments, civil society & media is crucial for this. Last but not least, Remi Kolagbody, a Youth Care Leaver in Bulgaria shared his personal experience about violence and abuse in orphanages in Bulgaria. He said that there should be a greater need for more family-type care and foster-care network and that love, commitment and endurance to take care of a child does not come from an institution, it is a noble thing. In this respect, Remi concluded by confirming that foster care gives children a bright future and that the EU investments into the development of foster care in Bulgaria were life-turning.

The second session discussed ways in which we could achieve better outcomes for children through EU funding in the next MFF. Halyna Postoliuk, from Hope and Homes for Children Ukraine, stated that transforming or closing down institutions is not enough. Children should be prevented from entering them and we should develop all forms of alternative care, change attitudes towards children. Likewise, Mark Waddington, the Chief Executive form the Hope and Homes for Children said that more than 37% of all children confined in institutions suffer physical violence and that children in institutions have limited growth and increased chances of suicide.

The event concluded by claiming that it is essential for children under the age of three to develop and grow in a family environment and that ending institutionalisation means breaking cycles of poverty and supporting families at risk.