The head of the Social Protection Standards Authority, Matthew Vella, said that published guidelines on vulnerable children reflect what they really need and are the result of a wide consultation, even with children who are being cared for in alternative protection.
The guidelines relate to obligations and responsibilities of the services providers to children. The authority published a booklet for children who are treated in alternative welfare so that they are informed about the services provided to them.
There are currently 24 residential homes for children in alternative protection and 247 children being fostered by families.
Family and Social Solidarity Minister, Michael Falzon, said that the guidelines are in conformity with the children’s protection legislation, which gives a new dimension to the alternative protection sector. The law provides the mechanism to address the individual needs of children, including treatment, custody, education and the psychological and emotional support.
“Our intention is that with these standards, children in alternative protection are given their needs in order to improve the Maltese society”.
The media conference was held in one of the children’s homes run by the Church – Dar Frate Jacoba – where eight children, aged between 10 and 17, live. Fr Ray Scicluna, who has been running the home since its opening twelve years ago, said that treatment to children is holistic.
“During the first period of their stay here, they have to remove anger, however once they start working, they feel they can contribute to something”.
Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Parnis stated that the homes who care for the children are dedicated with treatment services to children who cannot live with their natural families.