By 2020 there will be no orphanages in the Lithuanian capital

During the next five years, Vilnius will try to reduce the number of infants and children living in institutions; and only in most desperate cases, if foster parents cannot be found, will the children be housed in an orphanage. There, the conditions will resemble, as much as possible, the intimacy of a family

Currently there are around 330 children living in the capital city’s orphanages. The Council will discuss reforms for the children’s’ care system, where discussion priorities will be given to the elimination of orphan homes and the topic of children care in families.

In the few reformation years, foster homes should stop to exist, or only remain for the children in exceptional situations. Children have to grow up where they belong – in families and in communities. The families and communities will get a full packet of all of the necessary social services. Families will receive actual aid, a foster network will be created, and infant orphan homes will become service centres. From the beginning, we will try to make sure that children do not end up in orphanages. We will invest to support families who are having problems, said mayour of Vilnius Remigijus Šimašius.

This does not mean that suddenly all of the foster care institutions will be closed. Larger orphanage homes will be divided into smaller ones and reconstructed to resemble natural community environments. One of the first successful examples of the reform of institutionalized care is Žolynas orphanage. There, as the institution is being divided, nine kids live together in a family.

From 2017, as the Vilnius Residence for Infants with development delays gets amended, intense rehabilitation services will be provided to the children with the development delays. They will receive medical treatments and prophylactic secondary level health care. In addition, children who do not have parents will receive social help.

At the Residence, families that are expecting disabled children will be able to receive consultations. Families, who are raising children with a disability, up until the kids are 7 years old, will have the opportunity to receive a short term service, which would allow them to re-enter the workforce. Otherwise, the parents can use a couple of hours to repose, while qualified specialists take care of their children.

One of the reform goals is to strengthen families’ readiness and willingness to take care of children left without parents. When this happens, it will be easier to adopt kids, while the adoption procedures can become an aid to the parents. As the new guardian board is being created, its goals are to provide services to the guardians: teach, consult, and provide psychological help. The call centre will partake in the searching for the guardians and foster parents, and will publicize good practice examples.

As a result of lack of knowledge and experience, uncontrolled emotions, financial problems, or the lack of social connections, families have difficulties raising children. Starting next year, the plan is to create regional family help centres. There, personal family assistants will attend to social risks and social proficiency lacking families. The centres will organize a wide variety of teaching courses and programs for the youth. Instead of the negative view on social centres, using the world’s foster care system as a guide, by 2016 two intense correction service centres, for children and teens in the age groups 6-12 and 12-16,who have behaviour and emotional issues, or traumas , will be established. In these centres, based on each child’s personal case, the children will receive individual attention and help from the specialists. Additionally, in the upcoming few years, a secure housing system for the youth that leaves the orphanages will be created, as well.

Four orphanages are planned to be reformed in Vilnius, whose initiator is municipality: Residence for Infants with development delays, orphanage centres “Gilė”, “Mintis”, and “Žolynas”. During 2015, these four institutions will receive 1,628,962 euros (1,082,252 euros from municipality’s budget and 546,710 euros from state budget funds).

According to calculations, the five year orphanage reform plan will require funds from the state budget, municipality, and EU. The estimate is around 2005.6 euros.

The Baltic Review
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