“In Hérault, helping children and families has become a fundamental skill” explains Véronique Calueba

“In Hérault, helping children and families has become a fundamental skill” explains Véronique Calueba

Véronique Calueba : “le nombre d'enfants confiés a augmenté de 13 % depuis 2017.” Midi Libre – NICOLAS ZARROUK

Véronique Calueba, la vice-présidente du Conseil départemental évoque les enjeux du nouveau Schéma départemental pour la protection maternelle et infantile et l’aide sociale à l’enfance voté par l'assemblée.

What is the use of a diagram such as the one adopted by the department ? 

It’is a legal obligation in order to make public policies understandable. This makes it possible to affirm the values ​​of solidarity and territorial equality that we want to defend. It’s a roadmap that is adaptable. For example, in the last plan we had not anticipated the massive arrival of certain unaccompanied minors, Covid. This today represents a budget of 219 M€ per year. This is one of the fundamental skills of the departments.

What are the new directions ? 

We co-constructed it with partners, beneficiaries and the general public. Three main axes were established: the continuity of the paths of children and families, that we have follow-up, the diversification of intervention methods with prevention, support for families before the breakup . Then everyone can act where they are to make things go better. 

One of the actions concerns early prevention ? 

Yes, but all maternal and child protection is an act of prevention. With all the dynamics around the thousand days, from the 4th month of pregnancy until the child is three years old, globalized support before the birth. The PMI is universal and is aimed at everyone, it is not linked to social difficulties. This is why the PMI bus travels everywhere in the villages. The more we develop our policy, the more we hope to reach as many people as possible. 

In 2023, 1,476 concerning reports concerning children were processed. That’s a lot. 

This goes through 119, direct calls from the public prosecutor's office, from structures. The service will be strengthened because it processes each piece of information and makes an initial assessment to see what response to provide. There were 3,097 pieces of information received in 2023, which is considerable. It is always better to inform rather than miss a tragedy. Fortunately, not all of the information is linked to serious abuse. 

Land and recruitment problems

In terms of child welfare, how many children are taken into care ? 

We have 5500 beneficiaries including 2600 children in care. But we have a lot of interventions in an open environment, with family. We have had 13% more minors in care since 2017, so we have to plan for reception because we no longer have the right to put older children in the hotel. But we have a problem recruiting staff. We have created 150 places for personalized support, but that means educators and staff. Children’s homes say they have difficulty recruiting. 

This is an obstacle to the implementation of this plan which provides for the creation of 700 places ? 

These places have been created, we are in the phase where we need to find land. Partner associations are looking for places. Once they have the land, they have to recruit. This is a real problem. We are creating places in 2023 but then it takes time, we have to negotiate with town halls. 

Of these 700 places, 450 are intended to accommodate unaccompanied minors ? 

No, it's about transforming hotel spaces into lasting reception areas. This is not an extra welcome. The calls for projects have been made. In the latest figures, the arrival of unaccompanied minors varies greatly from one month to the next. We are waiting for a rise in power which is not really happening. We are also gaining momentum with young adult contracts, which is interesting because it avoids sudden exits from child welfare.

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