How to Improve French Child Protection Services

Consultations on child welfare and support programs were launched on March 27 in France by Adrien Taquet, the Secretary of State for Childhood Protection, in coordination with various social service departments, associations, and professionals. Individuals who were placed in protective custody as children will also participate. 

Regional disparities account for the fact that currently all children do not have identical access to social assistance and protective measures. Six working groups will study the issue of breakdowns and disruptions in custody programs, how to improve schooling, how to best care for children with disabilities who are placed in custody, and will also evaluate the quality of child welfare services.

This deliberation comes after the French National Assembly appointed a task team on March 6, to investigate welfare and child support responsible for monitoring children placed in foster homes or institutions. The task team was appointed in response to a controversial television broadcast (Channel “France 3”), which denounced several flaws in child protection programs. Another important challenge is to develop a program for these young people to help them after their 18th birthday.

Since the child protective program is not centralized, the National Council for Childhood Protection cannot currently ensure equal entitlement rights for all children on a nationwide level. In an interview with Le Figaro, Adrien Taquet explains that “we should be examining how practices are implemented. For example, in health care, many of those on child welfare and support programs do not even have regular medical check-ups or health records and children’s’ psychiatry services are overwhelmed. We intend to launch a test program to evaluate how these children are cared for, starting at early childhood, by creating an annual subvention financed by social security. ”

In May, the Secretary of State will also announce protective measures against psychic or physical sexual violence. An overwhelming majority (80%) of these acts committed on children occur within the family environment. In addition, verifications would be implemented to control the “grey zone” of leisure time when children are entrusted to the supervision of totally unknown adults. Another issue to be resolved is the accessibility of data on known sex offenders. Discussions are also being held regarding the appointment of a referring hospital physician for cases of abuse. In cases where an infant’s death appears suspicious, a forensic pathologist could be immediately called upon.

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