NEWS

A dire lack of welfare services and infrastructure

The Children’s Ombudsman has reported a dramatic shortage of welfare and child protection services in Greece. Decentralized social services do not have enough staff nor are they specialized in dealing with serious family problems. Prefectures do not have enough services to undertake preventive measures, social research or support for children and their families. As for municipal authorities, they have no services at all. Children’s court prosecutors do not have an array of social services, despite the provisions for them in Law 2447/2006. Public institutions for the protection of children are either understaffed or have no specialized personnel or means. Residential and care units run by non-governmental organizations and the Church are uncertified, not inspected and do not get sufficient support from the state. With the exception of a few heroic initiatives by private organizations in various parts of Greece, there are no small residential units for children and adolescents. Also lacking are services that would be able to research and diagnose abuse, as well as to intervene on behalf of children and families in order to protect the children and prevent further abuse. Benefits for minors without parents are stuck at unacceptably low levels, and there is next to no support for single-parent families and families with many children. A crucial issue is the lack of a national center and system to recognize and monitor child abuse. Though the Children’s Health Institute plays an important part in giving guidance to professionals in matters of abuse, it has not been assigned the task of coordinating related activities nationwide. Although Law 3500/2006 stipulates that teachers must report cases of pupils who are subject to neglect and abuse, there is no support for the teachers or guidance as to what they should do in such circumstances.