“Respecting the interests of the child requires human and financial resources”: the rights defender takes up the issue of social assistance for children

“Respecting the interests of the child requires human and financial resources”: the rights defender takes up the issue of social assistance for children

“Respecting the interests of the child requires human and financial resources”: the rights defender takes up the issue of social assistance for children

Claire Hédon, défenseure des Droits est l’invitée des Rencontres d’Occitanie consacrées aux enfants placés. AFP – MIGUEL MEDINA

Rights defender Claire Hédon took up the burning issue of child protection. She deplores children's rights being violated due to lack of resources and public authorities “not always up to the task”. Guest of the Rencontres d’Occitanie this Thursday, May 16, she will provide her insight.

References to the Defender of Rights are increasing from year to year, in your opinion is this due to better knowledge of its existence or to a deterioration of public services& nbsp;?

The institution has existed since 2011. It is increasingly better known in its role in defending rights and freedoms in France, with nearly 250 agents and 600 delegates present throughout the territory. They strongly contribute to making it visible and accessible since they welcome the public free of charge to their thousand reception points.

But above all, the distance from public services undermines access to rights, dematerialization excludes millions of people… The human welcome and the quality of the response must be improved for users who need a human exchange or support in the event of difficulties. The services do not live up to their promise.

In November 2022, you took up the alarming situation of child protection on the entire territory, what was the situation at the time, has it evolved since ?

The institution receives multiple complaints concerning children entrusted to child protection and whose rights are not respected. In 2022, we have been alerted by several magistrates and social workers of a sharp deterioration in child protection services in several departments.

Meetings in Occitanie to talk about it

The drama of foster children remains current. After the suicide of one of them in Puy-de-Dôme, a parliamentary commission of inquiry is looking into the fate of these children placed under the responsibility of the of social assistance & childhood. It should deliver its conclusions in October.

This Thursday, May 16, & from 6 p.m. at the Midi Libre headquarters & Saint-Jean-de-Védas, the new meeting place in Occitanie will focus on the issue of their care and monitoring.

Invited guests: Claire Hédon, rights defender; Véronique Calueba, vice-president of the Department of H’Hérault delegated to childhood solidarity and family; Aurélien Robert, lawyer and president of the association l’Avocat et l’Enfant ; Adjutant Léa Milheau, assistant to the the unit commander Family protection center and Sylvain Louvet, journalist.

The current operation of these services no longer makes it possible to guarantee the effectiveness of children's rights: the number of places to accommodate children in suitable conditions is insufficient, the lack of professionals is glaring, their working conditions extremely difficult and the turnover is too high.

These failures lead to non-executed placements and disruptions in children's pathways, particularly in access to care. The situation has continued to deteriorate over the past two years. The responses from public authorities are still not up to par.

The Defender of Rights alerted the Children's Rights Committee to the alarming state of child protection in the territory. his observation ?

I believe that it is imperative to put the best interests of the child back at the heart of the child protection system. We are seeing breaks in the children's journey, or even the absence of a project for the child, which has been compulsory since 2007.

We see children kept at home without a place of placement, too many children in structures waiting for a place, children who multiply the number of emergency placement places in waiting for a permanent place, siblings separated due to lack of space… and staff in professional distress.

Also read:CASE. 40% of homeless people under the age of 25 are former foster children: child welfare, a system "out of steam"

Faced with this, we recommend increasing the budget that the State allocates to its own services and the subsidies and allocations to departments for the whole of their prevention and child protection actions. Respecting the best interests of the child requires human and financial resources.

Regarding children's rights, requests still increasing by 9 % between 2022 and 2023, what are -they are due according to you ?

This increase reveals an increase in violations of children's rights. But I also believe that more and more people are aware that children have rights in their own right, that they must be respected and protected.

The referrals we receive concern both child protection, access to education, and the fight against discrimination, particularly of children with disabilities, school harassment, support for minors in legal proceedings, the right to health, private life…

In these areas – and many others unfortunately – the place of children and respect for their rights are undermined. However, we must constantly remind ourselves: the child is a subject of law in his or her own right. We protect children by respecting their rights.

The non-execution of court decisions seems to be the subject of numerous referrals, in your opinion are we faced with a lack of resources or to ever more numerous decisions ? (or both ?)

We are indeed seized on this subject. There are many children affected in France. Concretely, as long as a court decision is not executed, children are not protected even though their situation requires rapid action. I am thinking, for example, of a little girl who lives with her parents even though a placement order was issued several months ago and the parents were convicted of violence against some of their children.

Also read: Faced with the difficulties of social assistance for children, "we have the impression of being a little let down by everyone", deplores a lawyer

It is true that child protection professionals and magistrates have highlighted the lack of human and financial resources in the departments. In all cases, these difficulties have dramatic consequences on the children concerned.

You announced that you would make a decision in the second half of 2024, what are your lines of thought ? What responses do you have from the institutions concerned& ;nbsp;?

The instruction is still in progress. This decision will be addressed to the State departments and services concerned. It will be public and everyone will be able to consult it.


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