- Hans Weber
- November 29, 2023
Increase in Children in State Care in the Czech Republic Linked to Housing Shortages and Basic Needs Gap
The Czech Republic has witnessed a significant rise in the number of children in state care due to housing shortages and other related issues, according to a report by the 8000 Reasons initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports. The report reveals that the number of children living with foster parents or in children’s homes has increased by one-third since 2009. While there were 18,600 children in such situations fourteen years ago, the figure rose to 24,700 children by the end of 2020—an increase of 6,100.
The report identifies gaps in meeting basic needs, including food, hygiene, and safety, as the primary reasons for placing children outside their immediate families. Housing shortages, which often result in families living in hostels, contribute significantly to the issue. In approximately one out of ten cases, child abuse or neglect is the reason for removing children from their families.
Housing shortages are often the initial challenge faced by families, which can lead to a cascade of problems that are difficult to address. Insufficient housing makes it challenging for families to maintain proper hygiene or adequately prepare their children for school. Jan Klusáček, a ministry analyst, highlighted the difficulty faced by families in debt and housing shortages, stating that they struggle to meet their children’s needs despite their ability to do so if their circumstances were different.
The report features the experiences of families involved in the Housing First project, where one mother lost her children due to debt and unsuitable accommodations. The children were returned to her after two months when the organization helped her find suitable housing. Romani families, in particular, face challenges in securing rental housing, as noted by Eva Nedomová, a coordinator from the organization.
While economic or housing conditions should not be the sole reason for separating a child from their family, they often contribute to circumstances that disrupt a child’s upbringing to the point where it cannot be adequately provided within the family environment. Aneta Lednová, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports, emphasized the need for additional factors beyond housing when considering the removal of a child from their family.
Pavel Šmýd, Chairman of the Foster Family Association, highlighted that some parents may lack the necessary parenting skills to care for their children, even if they have the desire to do so. Addiction and other challenges can prevent parents from providing proper care.
The report also revealed that children are frequently removed from families in regions with high rates of excluded localities and excessive debt. However, the availability and staffing of support services in these regions are often insufficient, hindering timely interventions to support families effectively.
Addressing the root causes of housing shortages and providing comprehensive support services in regions with significant challenges will be crucial in reducing the number of children in state care and ensuring their well-being within their families.
Article by Prague Forum