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Life Sentence: Romani Children in Institutional Care

20 June 2011

Life Sentence: Romani Children in Institutional Care

Romani children are overrepresented in institutional care compared to their proportion of the population as a whole in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Slovakia. All six countries have adopted specific laws which govern child protection matters, with the best interests of the child as the prevailing legal principle. Detailed descriptions of child endangerment and clear methodological guidelines for its assessment are lacking in all countries, which provides significant opportunity for the mis-application or subjective interpretation of relevant provisions by child protection and social workers. Many factors contribute to the overrepresentation of Romani children in institutional care, including discrimination, poverty and material conditions (such as unemployment, indebtedness and inadequate housing), school absenteeism, single parenthood and unwanted pregnancies and migration. Child abuse was considered a very small factor in the placement of Romani children in State care. Preventative measures are often inadequate, there are an insufficient number of skilled social workers and an absence of community level prevention services in isolated Romani neighbourhoods due to insufficient funding. Romani children experience physical abuse, ill-treatment and ethnic discrimination in and out of the homes. Most homes do not offer programmes to support the development of Roma ethnic identity. Given that a disproportionate number of Romani children are in institutional care, that they are unlikely to return to their biological families, and that many are passed up for adoption, a great proportion of Romani children spend their whole childhood in an institutional setting. Romani children are disadvantaged on multiple grounds when it comes to child protection placement, in-care treatment and leaving, including on the basis of their ethnicity, poverty, disability, and institutionalised child status. The existing system creates a cycle from which it is hard if not impossible to escape.

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ERRC submission to UN HRC on Hungary (February 2018)

14 February 2018

Written Comments of the European Roma Rights Centre concerning Hungary to the UN Human Rights Committee for consideration at its 122nd session (12 Narch - 6 April 2018).

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The Fragility of Professional Competence: A Preliminary Account of Child Protection Practice with Romani and Traveller Children in England

24 January 2018

Romani and Traveller children in England are much more likely to be taken into state care than the majority population, and the numbers are rising. Between 2009 and 2016 the number of Irish Travellers in care has risen by 400% and the number of Romani children has risen 933%. The increases are not consistent with national trends, and when compared to population data, suggest that Romani and Traveller children living in the UK could be 3 times more likely be taken into public care than any other child. 

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Families Divided: Romani and Egyptian Children in Albanian Institutions

21 November 2017

There’s a high percentage of Romani and Egyptian children in children’s homes in Albania – a disproportionate number. These children are often put into institutions because of poverty, and then find it impossible ever to return to their families. Because of centuries of discrimination Roma and Egyptians in Albania are less likely to live in adequate housing, less likely to be employed and more likely to feel the effects of extreme poverty.

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