National Audit Office: Welfare of children without parental care requires organisational changes

Toomas Mattson | 9/2/2009 | 12:00 AM

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TALLINN, 2 September 2009 - The National Audit Office has audited the organisation of the national welfare of orphans and other children without parental care in orphanages or children’s homes and foster families and found that although the state has indicated that caring for such children in families is a priority, it has actually contributed more to children’s homes.

In 2008 the state contributed 191.5 million kroons to children’s homes and only 17.5 million kroons to supporting children in foster care. 1323 children resided in children’s homes during the year, while 401 were in foster care.

Even though the state’s goal has been to offer children welfare that is as close to family life as possible, which is generally more child-friendly and guarantees better preparation for life, the proportion of foster family care has actually decreased.

The state pays between 10,000 and 16,000 kroons per month for a child raised in a children’s home and 3000 kroons per month for a child in foster care.

It is positive that the state has tried to make children’s homes as similar to families as possible. Approximately 225.5 million kroons will be invested in improving the physical environment of children’s homes over the next few years with the help of the European Regional Development Fund and the Swiss Cooperation Programme.

The National Audit Office finds that both forms of welfare are necessary, but children’s homes, especially with carers who work in shifts, can never replace growing up in a family. Organisational changes are also required in addition to monetary contributions.

Since financing is on a per capita basis, children’s homes are interested in caring for as many children as possible. Another reason why local governments decide to send children to children’s homes rather than foster care is that information about children’s homes is easier for them to obtain than information about potential foster families. The state has therefore created a system that does not motivate them to appoint children to foster care, where they could grow up in ordinary families.

The National Audit Office has advised the Minister of Social Affairs to promote an increase in the number of foster families by propagating the service and offering advice and training. The availability of information throughout the country about foster families should also be guaranteed. The National Audit Office believes that the cost of renovating children’s homes using foreign aid has been overestimated by the state. There will be money left over as a result of the decrease in construction prices. The National Audit Office has advised that a decision and arrangements be made regarding the reasonable use of the remaining funds as soon as possible.

Toomas Mattson
Communication Manager of National Audit Office
Telephone: 6400 777
Mob: 51 34900

  • Posted: 9/2/2009 12:00 AM
  • Last Update: 8/28/2015 9:11 PM
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