Life Sentence: Romani Children in State Care in the Czech Republic

20 June 2011

Life Sentence: Romani Children in State Care in the Czech Republic

Romani children are disadvantaged within the Czech child protection system and highly overrepresented within the system of Czech institutional care. Relevant legislative and policy is not unified or sufficiently defined. A legal definition of child endangerment and legally binding guidelines for assessing child endangerment are lacking. Preventative social work is inadequate to address the problems experienced by marginalised Romani families. Significant problems experienced by a great number of Romani families in the Czech Republic, such as structural poverty, inadequate housing, unemployment and indebtedness are rarely addressed effectively and often form the basis for child removal, although the highest Czech courts have confirmed that this is not permissible. Low rights awareness negatively affects the position of Romani families during related court proceedings. Social work with Romani families while their children are in State care rarely results sufficient improvements to enable the return of affected children to their families. Romani children experience various problems while in institutional care, including physical abuse, ill-treatment and ethnic discrimination. Very few children’s homes offer programmes to support the development of positive ethnic identity. Romani children are less likely to be adopted than non-Romani children in the Czech Republic due to their ethnicity, and Romani children diagnosed as having a disability have limited educational and adoption opportunities. It is very difficult if not impossible for many Romani children to escape the existing system.

Life Sentence: Romani Children in State Care in the Czech Republic


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