On Wednesday, September 15, representatives of the Ministry of Justice and Foreign Affairs, Riga Orphans’ Court, and the State Inspectorate for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (VBTAI) informed about the current issues regarding childcare abroad and removal of children from Latvian families. The main reason why children – parents are not removed from the families of Latvian citizens abroad – is not providing full-fledged care for their children.
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Children from Latvian families are most often removed from the family in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Iceland and Sweden. For example, by September 1, 2021, 29 cases have been initiated in which Latvian families have been removed or there is a risk that children will be removed from parental care. In 2020, a total of 41 cases were initiated.
“Ministry of Justice, resolving and engaging in the examination of such cases, concludes that one of the main reasons why children are removed from Latvian families is the lack of parental child care. That is why we have updated and developed guidelines for parents to informively inform parents about how to promote the child’s well-being and bring up children in accordance with the law of that country. The guidelines are available from the Ministry of Justice Homepage, “says Baiba Ziemele, Director of the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Justice.
Issues regarding the protection of the rights of minor Latvian citizens abroad are also constantly in the spotlight of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Latvia’s representation abroad. Agnese Saliņa, Director of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, emphasizes: “While abroad and facing difficulties in children’s rights, the family must urgently contact the nearest Latvian diplomatic and consular mission abroad so that we can provide the necessary assistance.”
Involving the Orphans ‘Court in solving the mentioned situations, the Chairman of the Riga Orphans’ Court Aivars Krasnogolovs pointed out at the press conference: “There is no one-size-fits-all solution in cases where children of Latvian citizens are separated from families abroad. Each case is unique and requires every Orphan’s Court to research, delve into, acquire new knowledge, as well as financial resources, because it is not only about Latvian, but also foreign laws and traditions in ensuring the protection of children’s rights. In order for parents not to find themselves in crisis situations, regardless of the country in which the family is located, the main precondition is child-friendly care and parents’ understanding of these needs. In cases where, however, there are risks of the child being separated from the family, special attention must be paid to any document and understanding of what is written in it, which parents are invited to sign abroad by the responsible authorities. “
Describing the overall situation regarding childcare, VBTAI Director of the Family Support Department for Children Amanda Vēja informed at a press conference: “Last year the hotline for children and adolescents provided almost 7,000 psychological consultations, this year – almost 4000. “The emphasis has shifted significantly from problem situations in educational institutions to families. The range of relationship problems in families has increased, as has the number of cases of violence involving children. As a result, children’s emotional problems and their impact on mental health in general are increasing.”