Number of child protection specialists to be tripled to 150

Starting with this month, the number of specialists in the protection of children’s rights will be tripled, from 46 to 150 across the country. At the end of last year, there were over 20,000 children at risk in the country. The authorities admit that there are many children in difficult situations whom the system doesn’t see and the case of the 11-year-old girl who gave birth in January 2024 is an example of this, IPN reports.

In a press conference, Minister of Labor and Social Protection Alexei Buzu said that there are currently 46 frontline specialists in the protection of children’s rights, but to ensure an appropriate level of support and protection, at least 300 specialists are needed across the country.

“At the end of 2023, there were about 20,000 children at risk. It is not known what the progress of the system with regard to these children is. This year, a case management information system will be implemented and this will include all children at risk. Case management will be established in this unified system. There will be a detailed analysis of the needs, of the causes why this child is in a difficult situation and we will have an individual plan for everyone. We will also be able to measure the progress in helping the child,” explained the minister.

According to him, the Ministry, together with UNICEF, mobilized about 40 million lei to provide that family support for about 15,000 children at risk. A part of the support measures will be financed with this money. At the same time, the progress will be assessed in each case every month. There will also be actions to identify children in difficult situations. The national average shows that 39 out of 1,000 children are at risk, but the variation between districts is very high. And this shows that there are many children at risk whom the system doesn’t see.

Alexei Buzu reminded about the child’s phone – 116 111 - to which 4,200 calls were recorded last year. According to him, given the number of children who are at risk, the number of calls should be much higher. 

UNICEF Representative in the Republic of Moldova Maha Damaj said that when it comes to an effective child protection system, the most important component is related to human resources. And while infrastructure, policies and funding play a crucial role, the people in the system ensure effectiveness and the targeted impact. And these specialists need to have a combination of knowledge and experience that allows them to address those complex needs of vulnerable children and vulnerable families. “Whether they are investigating reports of abuse or neglect, or facilitating the placement of the child in foster care, child protection specialists are those defenders of children who are in the most difficult situations,” stated Maha Damaj.

MP Marina Morozova said that, unfortunately, there are now many children who are invisible to the system, largely due to the lack of human resources, who should be able to reach every child and family where there is a risk situation. “We currently have 46 specialists across the country. This is a very low number and it is too small a number to reach even half of the families who need support. We express our appreciation to the UNICEF Moldova team for the support for having 150 specialists,” noted the parliamentarian.

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