Life Sentence: Romani Children in State Care in Hungary

Life Sentence: Romani Children in State Care in Hungary

Romani children are overrepresented in State care compared to their overall share of the population in Hungary. A large number of Romani children are removed from their families due to material reasons and the number of children removed from their families for this reason is reported to rising due to the economic crisis, despite the fact that Hungarian law bans this. Child protection workers are most frequently alerted that they should monitor Romani families due to school absenteeism, which a significant reason for the removal of Romani children from their families, in addition to negative stereotypes about Roma among some child welfare workers. There are an insufficient number of skilled social workers available to support endangered families and a lack of available preventative programmes and services, particularly in rural areas and poorer city districts where more Roma tend to live. The cumulative effects of poverty and marginalisation are often insurmountable barriers to the return of Romani children to their families once in State care. Romani children are more likely than non-Romani children to be placed in children’s homes compared to other forms of alternative care including foster care and adoption. In State care, Romani children are reported to experience discriminatory treatment on account of their ethnicity and also their status as an institutionalised child. They face negative treatment and remarks from their caregivers and their peers in the homes, as well as in accessing public services outside the homes such as schools. There is a lack of programmes promoting a positive Roma identity among Romani children living in State care and a lack of Romani child protection professionals. Few Romani children are reintegrated with their families and many end up staying in institutional care until they reach adulthood.

Life Sentence: Romani Children in State Care in Hungary 

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