How Are Protected Children Affected During Times of Crisis? – 1 Institutional Care
Crisis literally means the difficult period, depression and depression of the society. Situations called crisis sometimes occur as a result of natural disasters, sometimes as a result of economic turmoil and sometimes as a result of uncontrollable events. Although the cause of the crisis changes, its results paint a portrait that affects the society, disrupts the functioning systems, and completely stops the currently failing systems. Of course, the most affected by the crisis are the vulnerable groups in the society.
We are currently experiencing a crisis, not only as a country but as a world: the Corona Outbreak. This period, when our physical and mental health is under threat, is of course difficult for all segments of society. However, some groups get through this process much more difficult. Children and youth under protection are one of these groups. 21,000 children are under protection in Turkey. While 14 thousand children remain in institutional care, only 7,000 children are in foster care.
With the onset of the Corona epidemic, various measures were taken across the country. Curfews and travel restrictions were applied from time to time. 14 thousand children in institutional care under protection have been in quarantine for months. They are restricted from leaving the institution. While the majority of the society suffers from depression even when they cannot leave their homes for the weekend or for a week, children and young people in institutional care have not been able to go out of the institution for months. Considering the risks arising from the institution, this practice is understandable. However, when evaluated in terms of child welfare, it is clearly seen how important family-based care models are and that institutional care cannot adapt to the processes experienced by the society. During this period, many experts focused on the mental health of children and their understanding of this epidemic. Families were told how to explain the corona epidemic to children, how children should spend time at home, and the importance of family relationships. So who is addressing the concerns of protected children? Is it possible for the care personnel who take care of the child and take additional cleaning measures in institutional care to support the children alone? Who protects the well-being of children during the period when the responsible specialists who visit children’s homes weekly during the normal period cannot visit homes during the corona period? Who controls what happens inside the houses? Who addresses the concerns of the protected child who is afraid that the corona will infect her/him? How can the traumas of children who cannot even meet with their biological families be prevented in institutions where visitors from outside are not accepted due to precautionary measures? However, if children were in family-based care models such as foster families, they would have survived this process much healthier.
Although we cannot foresee the future of the crisis, we can predict how children will be affected in times of crisis. In order to be prepared for this and similar crises, our child protection system needs to be built on stronger foundations. The epidemic is an ever-present risk for children who are cared for collectively in institutions. The precaution against this risk is not strict quarantines, but the promotion of family-based care models in which each child receives individual attention, compassion and value. And here the responsibility does not only belong to the state, but the responsibility of protecting the well-being of children belongs to all individuals living in the society. We wish to reach good days when every child is prepared for life in a loving family in societies that share this responsibility…