Streamlining of laws aims to limit adoption processes to 12 months

By Carrie-Marie Bratley, in News · 23-10-2014 14:18:00 · 0 Comments
Streamlining of laws aims to limit adoption processes to 12 months

Portugal’s Minister for Welfare, Employment and Social Security Pedro Mota Soares has this week announced that he intends to simplify the laws that regulate the adoption process in Portugal so that the procedure will take a year at the most.

Minister Soares made the statement during a conference held at the start of this week named ‘Children’s Rights – A Priority When?’, at which Justice Minister Paula Teixeira da Cruz and Health Minister Paulo Macedo were also present.
The Welfare Minister explained that he aims to make “a legislative compilation of the adoption process to [make it into] a single law that is clearer and allows greater speed in procedures so that they don’t, progressively, take more than one year.”
He added that the measure is the result of work carried out by two committees created several months ago to review the legal framework for adoption and improve the child and youth protection system.
The committees are made up of representatives from the Ministries of Home Affairs, Health, Education and Sciences, and Welfare, Employment and Social Security.
Mota Soares also stressed that “the dragging on of adoption processes goes against the best interests of the child.”
Dr. Luís Villas Boas, director of the Refúgio Aboim Asenção children’s home in Faro and president of the government-appointed ‘Child Agenda’ group, which was created in 2012 and was a driving force behind the creation of the two afore-mentioned committees, told The Portugal News he believes Portugal “will, one day, see a greater speed in the adoption process.”
Shelter and adoption were two specific topics for which recommendations were made by the Child Agenda work group in 2013, following which the two committees were created earlier this year.
In Dr. Villas’ view, getting children out of care and back into families depends on three key factors: early intervention, expertise and temporary care solutions.

As one of Portugal’s most vocal child welfare campaigners, Dr. Villas Boas is a champion of the EI (Infant Emergency) model of intervention, in which a child is placed into short-term care as early as possible and returned to their biological families or found new families as soon as possible.
He believes working closely with the relevant professionals is paramount to resolving each situation.
With the exception of two institutions in northern Portugal – in Matosinhos and in Guimarães – as well as the home he runs in the Algarve, Dr. Villa Boas says “the country doesn’t have places that offer a [temporary] haven”, only long-term.
Founded 29 years ago the Refúgio provides temporary shelter to up to 95 children aged up to eight, taken in at the courts’ request.
In related news, it has emerged that of the estimated 8,500 children who have been removed from their parents and put into care in Portugal, 8,142 are still institutionalised.
The figures, from 2013, are included in the CASA report for the Annual Characterisation of the Situation of Children and Youths in Care, of Social Security and the Social Security Institute, which was published earlier this year.
During the ‘Children’s Rights – A Priority When?’ conference held on Monday and Tuesday this week the numbers were again brought to the table but in a comparative context.
A report in newspaper Público indicated that Portugal is first among Western European countries for the number of children in care.
But, the newspaper reported, Portugal is at the bottom of the table when it comes to children in foster care, with just four percent of its institutionalised children being placed with temporary families.
In neighbouring Spain that figure rises to 30 percent, while in France it is 66 percent, and 77 percent of children in the UK are placed with foster families after being removed from their biological families.
Manuel Rodrigues, head of the association Living Worlds, said the fact that 96 percent of children and youths at risk in Portugal are placed into institutions is “an anomaly without parallel in Europe.”
“Just four percent are with foster families”, he stressed, adding “we need to change the protection system” with a greater qualification of responses and resources.
He told newspaper Publico that this could be achieved with families who are able to provide quality fostering and care.
“That is what is missing in Portugal”, he said, and suggested that through national campaigns a “bank of families” could be created with which it would be possible to find “the right family for a child,” according to their needs.
“Sometimes it is necessary to intervene in a child’s best interest but a child’s best interest in not being institutionalised”, he reiterated.


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