Deinstitutionalisation in Hungarian Child Protection: Policy and Practice Changes in Historical Contexts

Erzsébet Rákó

The aim of the study is to present the historical changes in child protection in Hungary and the process of deinstitutionalisation, which is still shaping child protection work in this country. The research seeks to answer the question of how the process of institutionalisation and deinstitutionalisation was implemented in Hungary in the socialist era and after the introduction of Act XXXI of 1997 on the Protection of Children and on the Directorate for Guardianship (Act XXXI of 1997), which was a milestone in the Hungarian child protection for the 0-3-year olds.

The study employs a case study methodology with secondary data corpus including legislation and data provided by the Central Statistical Office in Hungary. The scientific approach of the study is mainly historical, presenting the main features of child protection in three distinct periods 1950- 1970, 1980-1995 and 1996-2018.

The findings indicate that the socialist era has had a prevailing influence on child protection for many decades, but the years following the transition into democracy brought major transformation in child protection, a "transition of the child protection system", paving the way for the process of deinstitutionalisation and the emergence of alternative forms of care.