Lumos, an international non-profit organisation founded by J.K. Rowling to help countries reform their services for disadvantaged children, has begun working with partners in Greece to help bring about reforms for institutionalised children. Lumos hosted a conference in Athens supporting deinstitutionalisation in Greece which was attended by over 70 policymakers, children’s welfare professionals, and civil society delegates. Lumos aims to build awareness of the need for reform of the child protection system away from institutions and towards community-based social services and family-like child care placement.
In Greece, an estimated 3,000 children and young people live in approximately 85 private and public residential institutions. In the past few years, media reports had revealed disturbing cases of, for example, children in caged beds in Greek children’s homes. Other studies have revealed that children in Greece who were removed from family environments were mostly placed in institutions, with low rates of reunification. Reform in Greece is thought to be particularly important at this time given the migrant crisis and the need to address the needs of many children separated from their families.