65 children and young people have been reintegrated in their families, have moved to small group homes or have been socially and professionally integrated

In January 2018, the Hope and Homes for Children Foundation and the Iași General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection (DGASPC) have finalised the closing down of the Iași Veniamin Costache placement centre. In the process, which lasted for almost two years, we seeked the best solutions for the 65 children and young people living there: reintegration within the immediate or extended family, social and professional integration for those who have left the child protection system or small group homes in Iași. The building of the former placement centre will be turned into an emergency reception centre.

The partnership between Hope and Homes for Children and DGASPC Iași for closing down the Veniamin Costache placement centre started in 2016, when the centre hosted 65 children. In the process, each child was assesed individually by specialists provided by the Directorate and the Foundation (psychologists and social workers) to identify suitable alternatives. Some of the children (several larger groups of siblings) were reintegrated within their imediate or extended family, while others were moved into DGASPC Iași small group homes (some of which were renovated to this purpose). 31 young people received support to find jobs and start an independent life in the Hope and Homes for Children social and professional integration programme targeting young people leaving the protection system. In January 2018, the last children left the institution to live in a recently renovated DGASPC small group home.

The placement centre is part of the Veniamin Costache service centre, which was set up in January 2011 by bringing together the Tătărași and Primăverii centres. The centre includes small group homes and a day centre for children from vulnerable families. Once the deinstitutionalisation process is over, the premises will be turned in an emergency reception centres with 45 places available.

“Since 2014, we have been working together with the Iași General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection because here they have the highest number of institutionalised children at national level. Here we are, four years later, closing down the first centre, Veniamin Costache, together with our partners, and providing the children and young people in this centre with the chance to live a family life. We have used the services that the county already had, so that, out of 65 institutionalised children, 15 have been reintegrated in their families, 25 young adults are now in our social and professional integration programme and will become independent, and 25 are now in alternative family facilities. It’s the first step in the large county deinstitutionalisation programme and we will continue by closing down two other placement centres by the end of the year”, said Ștefan Dărăbuș, Hope and Homes for Children regional director for Central and South Europe.

At national level, the Iași county has the largest number of old-type institutions and the most children in the social protection system. In 1997, the county had 35 placement centres with more than 5,000 institutionalised children. In 2017, 950 children are still in institutions or in small group homes, while 1,450 children are in care. With the closing down of the Veniamin Costache centre, there are 11 orphanages remaining, with 900 children altogether. The Hope and Homes for Children Foundation is in the final stages of closing down two more placement centres in the county, the Ion Holban centre in Iași and the Sf. Spiridon centre in Târgu Frumos.