Seminar: “Preventing the separation of children from their families, as part of the reform process and the structural funding opportunities”

During 22-23 November, we organised in Bacau a seminar-workshop for the North-East Region on “Preventing the separation of children from their families, as part of the reform process and the structural funding opportunities”, through Human Capital Operational Programmes (HCOP) and the Regional one (ORP), for the 2014-2020 Structural Funding period.

For the first day of the event, the participants were directors of the General Directorates of Social Work and Child Protection (CPDs) in the North-East region, namely Bacău, Botoșani, Iași, Neamț, Suceava and Vaslui counties, as well as mayors from villages in certain rural areas in the abovementioned counties. The discussions revolved around the issues of children at risk of being separated from their families from the perspective of collaboration between institutions – local authorities, county authorities and the civil society, NGOs. 

The participants also discussed the role and strategic importance of the collaboration between CPDs and social services provided by the local authorities, the most commonly encountered situations of risk for the children living in disadvantaged families. They also talked about the issues that these families face, as well as the solutions available or necessary at the level of the local community, efficient strategies to develop community social services, the importance of actions at local level and raising awareness within the community.  

The need to diversify intervention methods was emphasized, in order to efficiently prevent the separation of children. One of the topics under discussion was related to funding opportunities to maintain the children with their families, funds that are scheduled for the immediate future through structural funding opportunities on any of the funding lines that meet the needs and identified issues.

The workshops of the day provided the participants with the opportunity to engage in exchanging ideas and experiences on the social needs of the families from the communities they represent. Another activity was the exercise of designing a project to develop services at local and community level to prevent the separation of children from their families. The conclusions of the day emphasized on the importance of solving the issues faced by the families and children as soon as possible, before the risk of separation is too high, as one of the participants said “the children we raise today will be the adults of tomorrow”.

The seminar continued the following day with specialists directly involved in service provision for families at risk. Among the participants were social workers from local social services in several towns and villages in Bacau County (Dărmănești, Letea Veche, Bacău, Gârleni, Parincea, Blăgești, Hemeiuși, Filipești, Sascut, Sănduleni), along with specialists and heads of services directly involved in working with children at risk of separation. Sorin Bârlădeanu, the Director of Bacău CPD, talked about the importance of early intervention and of the support provided to the families in order to avoid and then overcome the risk situation.

The workshop provided the framework for a management exercise, in which the trainees could apply the tools for identifying the area and risk factors for the children and their families, they could assess, identify the resources and then estimate the investment, while planning the interventions, services, reporting and monitoring activities. Then, while working in groups, the participants discussed several case studies and designed intervention projects tailored on the needs and specifics of each case.

All the people who attended the seminar pointed out the need for such meetings and for the communication between different agents who can support the development of high quality services for children and their family.