Two mothers who were sent to jail can see their children once a week, and can Skype with them every day

Two young children have been given the right to have daily contact with their mothers over Skype and a physical visit once a week after they ended up living in alternative care until their mothers serve their six month prison sentence.

The Directorate of Children’s Welfare placed the children, aged 3 and 4 into care after the Court sentenced the two Turkish women to jail for being in possession of false travel documents.

In an interview with TVM, the Director of Children’s Welfare Directorate, Steve Libreri, said that its  job is to ensure that the children are well taken care of and protected.

The two children will be allowed to visit their mothers once a week in a place which is suitable for children and Skype with them daily. This case has raised a number of questions over the fact that the children, who do not seem to have any relatives in Malta, have been separated from their mothers.

Mr Libreri said:

“The work by the Police sometimes leads to a parent or guardian to face a prison sentence, so in that situation, we are looking at the circumstances which arise if the mother or father go to jail, what will happen to the children? This is where our role as a Directorate comes in, because if a parent for some reason cannot care for their children, or is not fit to care for them, we step in to put a different plan into place for alternative care to ensure the children’s safety.”

Mr Libreri added that as a Directorate their first priority is to help families stay together because in general, children prefer to remain in contact with their parents, unless there is abuse. Steve Libreri said that in the case of these children, the Directorate immediately started to check whether they have any relatives here or in another country, in which case they would have been sent to these relatives.

“We checked whether the children have any grandparents or aunts or uncles. We try as much as possible to leave the children in their original environment. When this is not possible, the process starts of finding alternative care which could include fostering or a residential home. Theoretically, we prefer a family environment. However these are never linear decisions, they are not easy, abrupt decisions to take.”

The Office of the Commissioner for Children has expressed its concern and quoted the UN Convention of Children’s Rights which says children should not be separated from their parents.  The Office urged all entities involved to ensure that the children are protected and that they are allowed to have proper contact with their mothers while their privacy is respected.