Child Protection in France

Abstract

France’s welfare system relies on an intricate network of universal-access public services that is fairly effective in terms of ensuring public health and basic needs. Child protection and welfare services, Aide sociale à l’enfance (ASE), operate within this strong framework on a territorial basis, with priorities and protocols being decided in each of France’s 101 départements. To carry out its mission, ASE organises the centralisation of all information giving rise to concern in close collaboration with the justice system, and carries out virtually all targeted welfare and care interventions, whether consensually decided or judicially mandated. Catering to 290, 000 minors and 21, 500 18-to-21 year-olds (as of December 31st, 2014), the French child protection system covers a wide variety of situations and practices that are difficult to compare and make sense of at national level due to the important socio-economic variations and organizational discrepancies from one territory to the next. Two overarching trends can nonetheless be identified in terms of practices, with mixed results: maintaining families together as much as possible, and promoting consensual interventions as opposed to judicial care orders.