Development of Integrated Social Care Services for Vulnerable Families and Children at Risk in Moldova

Arkadi Toritsyn

According to official data, the number of children in need of social protection is on the increase in Moldova. Along with traditional categories of children at risk or in difficulty, new categories have emerged such as “social orphans”, children left without parental care and supervision in the community due to migration-out, street children, children which do not go to school, children which are victims of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation (including trafficking), children in conflict with the law, and children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

A significant number of children in Moldova live in institutions. Out of a total number of about 900,000 of children more than 12,000 children are currently placed in 68 residential institutions. The causes for children institutionalization vary: diseases and disabilities, parents’ death, parents’ poverty, lack of primary educational institutions, and limited availability of social community-based services for children at risk and their families. 

These phenomena required new modalities of approach, revision and completion of legal and institutional framework. The broad strategic goals of the TACIS II project were to support the ongoing social sector reform process in the Republic of Moldova and to contribute to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Moldova's Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EGPRSP), and the European Union-Republic of Moldova Action Plan by further developing and ensuring effective implementation of a more efficient, inclusive and integrated child and family protection system in Moldova.

The overall objective of the project was to promote the development of a protective environment for children so as to:
a) prevent the placement of children in residential care institutions; and
b) reduce the number of children already living in residential care.

Special emphasis was placed on developing integrated models that:
a) involve in a participatory way all relevant actors, including families and children, at different levels of society;
b) recognizes the duties and responsibilities of all actors in an effort to promote and respect children’s rights for all children in all circumstances without discrimination;
c) ensure that social care services can provide a range of services which adequately meet the needs of vulnerable families and children; and that
d) these services are fully integrated into the child protection system in a sustainable way.