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“Swiss-Romanian realities-comparative study between ways of working in child young and family welfar


“Swiss-Romanian realities-comparative study between ways of working in child young and family welfare”

June 29, 2017- Dragalina, Călăraşi county

Synthesis of the event

FICE Romania has remained faithful, for over 27 years of activity, to the noble purpose for which it was established, namely, the protection and promotion of children's rights, with a focus on temporarily institutionalized children. Romanian section keeps on devoting special interest to professional encounters and exchange of good practices between professionals working in the field of child protection, considering that such activities foster the positive ongoing of the system and lead to the development of adequate social services, adapted to the needs of the clients.

The participation of three members of FICE Romania, social services professionals from Calarași and Vaslui counties (a psychologist, a social worker and a case manager), in an international exchange program in Switzerland in May 2017, has determined the organization of a national seminar with the theme "Swiss-Romanian Realities-comparative study between ways of working in child young and family welfare". The event was hosted by Dragalina Town Hall, Călărași County.

This professional manifestation offered the occasion of an exchange of ideas and practices among specialists from local welfare services (Arges, Brasov, Buzau, Ialomita, Constanta, Dambovita, Neamt, Vaslui, Vrancea, Tulcea, Calaraşi counties and the 5th District of Bucharest), members of FICE Romania. Guest of honor was the President of the County Council-Iliuță Vasile.

The starting point of the discussions has been presenting professional exchange program in Switzerland. In the first part of the seminar the three Romanian specialists have presented information about the program, generalities about Switzerland and its cantons, State organizational system, social security, welfare, educational, economic, political and medical system.

Elena Ulmeanu, psychologist in the public sector and FICE Romania member -Călărași branch, emphasized the two components of the professional exchange program- both general and individual (according to the areas of interest of the participants).

Marius Dohotaru Pletoianu, social worker, facility coordinator and FICE Vaslui branch member, detailed general information about Switzerland and the activities deployed within the framework of the professional exchange program conducted in institutions for the protection of children with disabilities. The information has been accompanied by pictures and further clarification offered at the request of the participants in the seminar, referring to the number of specialists involved in resolving such cases, documentation on access in residential system for this category of children, therapeutic services and recovery care provided according to the needs of children.

As conclusions, Marius Dohotaru stated the following:

• a healthy person in Romania, whose incomes derive from two or more contracts of employment, is ordered to pay compulsory health insurance for each and every income. People without incomes benefit from the same package of medical services;

• in Switzerland, all persons, including children pay compulsory health insurances;

• the number of taxpayers in Romania is much lower than that of beneficiaries of social services/benefits, while in Switzerland the number of taxpayers is much higher;

• Swiss State invests in the infrastructure of private legal entities, assuming the role of supervisory services rendered;

• social services in Switzerland are settled only after proof is given to the supply thereof.

Luana Mirela Nadane, in the position of case manager and also representative of FICE Vaslui Branch, presented her findings about the professional exchange program in Switzerland with reference to child and family social protection, foster care system and case management in child protection services, along with examples, images and case studies. They seized a few novelty items in Swiss child protection system. One of these is the possibility that the special protection measure – foster care- involves shared responsibility between biological parent and foster parent in terms of rearing, education and child care. On the other hand, the child may live both in foster and biological family, based on a schedule. This type of care is built in order to lessen the trauma of separation from family and to encourage child reintegration into the family. To facilitate this, foster parents are selected from the same community with child's natural family. Another new element is the lack of psychological assessment in the initial formation process of attestation of foster parents. Also, Swiss welfare system is putting emphasis on family separation prevention services and avoiding to take children into care. From this point of view there are outsourced services which are provided by NGOs that are specialised in the work of family counselling in situations of risk. Within the initial assessment, social workers identify strengths and weaknesses of the family at risk and then build an intervention program on the basis of these findings. Intervention methods primarily focus on counseling programs of ”family coaching” type. Social workers help families to identify job opportunities, special access programs for financial aid, build family budget, educational programs that would fold on the specifics and needs of family members. Foster care services are used also for the purpose of correcting deviant behaviour of children and young people. Foster families usualy live on farms and manage to integrate children and young adults in this new environment, immersing them in their daily program. Swiss experts consider that this type of intervention is successful for the children and young people who do not have school efficiency, present various types of adiction (drugs, alcohol, PC games, social networking, etc.). Such programs will be carried out over a period of two to three months, and in the process social workers, foster parents and their families are trained.

Romanian experts have put the emphasis on the description of the three types of interventions in child protection observed during the professional visit to Switzerland: additional intervention-through family support activities; additional intervention-through family counseling programs, education, and intervention in contingency; intervention in emergency situations-replacing the family or child protection measure. All of these types of interventions involve the existence of three essential elements in the strategy of the Swiss services to protect the child, the young and the family: participation, support and protection. It was also put into question the fact that Switzerland attaches great importance to private social welfare services which complement those of State and handled 40% of annual case studies. In Switzerland, they attach great importance to preventive services, family counseling, children and youth services that are open to the community and are offered free of charge.

Elena Ulmeanu presented her individual professional program organized by Roland Studi (president of FICE Switzerland) in the field of juvenile justice. Thus, there were mentioned: the existence of programmes for the prevention of juvenile delinquency-since the age of 10 years, counseling programs for both family and child, the existence and role of both Child and Family Court, and the teams consisting of 2 social workers and a prosecutor involved together to settle minor delinquents cases, the existence of mediation programmes, courses for juvenile offenders: -social competence training courses, media proficiency courses, traffic law, round tables about drug use and its risks, the inclusion of minors in special programs according to the criminal deed committed, open or closed centres for juvenile offenders, involvement in apprenticeship programs, partially paid, since the age of adolescence (e.g. in areas such as: catering, carpentry, office supplies, etc.).

They also listed the harsher measures for under age criminals aged under 15 years-engaging in charitable work for juveniles offenders who have reached the age of 15 years in Switzerland is sentenced to imprisonment between 3 months and 1 year, and for those turned 16 years imprisonment for four years or more-depending on the seriousness of the offence/facts committed.

It was noted that in Switzerland cases relating to juvenile offenders are reported immediately in comparison with Romania where a resolution regarding a criminal offence committed by a child is brought to the attention of Social Services considerably later, sometimes after 1-2 years after the criminal offence. Also, another good practice is that they have successfully experimented the possibility of placing the juvenile delinquents in foster families who owe small farms or are engaged in agriculture, in isolated areas, far from urban agglomerations, aiming at determining child involvement in activities that are useful for life and making them more responsible (depending on age, desire and ability to carry out their activities on the farm). Therefore, such programs are meant to encourage the adoption of a healthy lifestyle by the child with conduct problems, to remove them from the wrong crowd and assist them in the recovery process. Foster parents in charge of caring for this category of children benefit from training programs and are monitored through weekly visits conducted by specialists.

Switzerland grants particular importance to the reason for committing the offence, to the circumstances of committing the deed and there are exceptions in determining the consequences of where it is found that the criminal deed was actually a happening or an accident.

Whereas it is considered that "the mistake is the privilege of the young people on the road to maturity”, focus is placed on complex prevention programmes started as early as possible (from a small age), in order to interfere and work with minors and family in due time. In Switzerland, they are trying, to the extent possible, to keep children in their families, while offering extensive programs of prevention and counselling for both children and parents.

National seminar “Swiss-Romanian realities-comparative study between ways of working in child young and family welfare” has provided the opportunity to exchange information and experience in the field of social work among experts from different professional areas and to initiate new collaborations for the future.

In the second part of the seminar, Mr. Ionel Armeanu Stefanica – general manager of Vaslui Social Services- invited participants to a debate in working groups and then to plenary discussions. They found that the information acquired in Switzerland by Romanian specialists have proven to be very interesting to other colleagues in the country who considered that the takeover of good practice models, adapted to the social welfare system from Romania would be extremely useful, helping services to evolve. Among other things, the participants considered to be beneficial for Romania:

-better accountability of Public Welfare Services from local communities so that their intervention level would rise, troubleshooting should be performed in the early stages, preventing an exacerbation of cases and at the same time their late intervention;

-the establishment of multifunctional centers of psychological medical, social and educational counselling for both family and the child;

-clarification of the legislation on juvenile delinquency and strengthening organizational capacity of some powerful programs for preventing juvenile delinquency from the very early ages, programmes aimed at the intervention of specialists in various domains of activity (school, Church, social work, Police, etc.);

-complete and complex programs for juveniles offenders;

-Courts for child and family (at present time, only one such court exists throughout the country);

-more locked rehabilitation centres for juveniles offenders repeatedly committing serious criminal acts;

-increasing the number of specialists working for children with disabilities and their families;

-employment of social workers in educational units- school and kindergarten;

-the establishment of several day care centers and development of services offered by them.

The seminar ended with discussions regarding the usefulness of the existence of several professional meetings and the decisive role of specialists in the field of social welfare-and in particular those within the public sector- which are entitled to generate proposals for the improvement of legislation and practice in the field.

The opportunity offered by FICE Romania for such a framework of discussions among experts from several areas of the country encourages their effort to improve occupational activity with new working methods that can adequately be adapted to the Romanian reality and the legislation in force, to develop new social services and initiate the proposals for the improvement of normative acts.

Synthesis produced by specialists who attended the two weeks exchange programme in Switzerland, in May 2017 :

-Elena Ulmeanu, psychologist in at Calarasi Social Services and representative of FICE Calarasi;

-Luana Mirela Nadane, case manager at Vaslui Social Services and representative of FICE Vaslui;

-Marius Dohotaru Pletoianu, social worker-facility coordinator at Vaslui Social Services representative of FICE Vaslui.



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