This Tuesday evening, a bill to improve the lot of children in care, minors entrusted to Social Assistance for Children, will be presented to the National Assembly by the government. Some 300,000 minors are affected by this text, more than half of whom are placed in an institution or in foster families, the others benefiting from educational actions.
The Secretary of State for Children Adrien Taquet claims to have taken the subject head-on. He will defend this text, which is part of a broader government strategy launched at the end of 2019 and endowed with 80 million euros in favor of this often forgotten sector. For their part, the oppositions criticize a “lack of ambition” of this bill, supposed to improve the lot of placed minors. Lyes Louffok, a former placed child and member of the National Council for the Protection of Children, returns for 20 Minutes on this text which he considers largely insufficient to improve the lot of children in care.
What is the current situation of children placed in France?
Statistically, children in care have a very compromised future after their placement ends, at the age of 18. Two figures to show this reality: 40% of young homeless people under the age of 25 are former children in foster care, and at all ages, one in four homeless is a former placed child.
They are also over-represented in the prison population and over-represented in psychiatric hospitals, which shows how children in care leave with disabilities in life.
These figures are unknown to the general public. How to explain it?
There is a general ignorance of the Children’s Aid system, many confuse them with Ddass or imagine that a child in care is necessarily a delinquent.
There is therefore a lot of educational work to be undertaken in the media and political fields, but children in care have also been abandoned by research: there is a lack of studies and data both on their future but also on their situation during the period. placement. This lack of data explains why political decisions sometimes seem to be taken blindly.
Does this bill represent a step forward?
We are very disappointed with this bill. The only small advance it includes is the request we made for the creation of a national file to identify the approvals of host families. It’s the only small breakthrough, but a breakthrough without a budget.
This is the whole question of decentralization, between the State, which is responsible for justice and aid, and the departments, which are the pilots of this public policy on children in care. The two systematically pass the buck and fundraising issues.
Admittedly, the government tabled for the first time in thirty years a text on the subject – before, only the Senate or the National Assembly took care of it – but it is a text without one euro spent. There is a problem between the ambition displayed, between the observation which is good, and the allocated budget, that is to say nothing. To make such a dramatic and real observation of the situation without releasing a budget is very worrying.
What did you not win your case on?
We demanded the obligation of extension of the protection of the children’s aid at least to 21 years. Today, young people are abandoned on the streets by public aid from the age of 18, and we can clearly see in the figures cited above the consequences of this abandonment. Even more with the social and health crisis of the coronavirus, which has only brought even greater instability for this population.
Throwing children into the streets is a human aberration, but also an economic one. The cost of a placement per year is estimated at 50,000 euros. When you invest for years in a child, then abandoning it without follow-up is money thrown down the drain. This text also lacks the obligation of the presence of a children’s lawyer. Currently, the Civil Code provides for child lawyers only for those who request them, but many children in care do not know their rights and find themselves without protection from violence.
This text supposedly says to present the ban on the placement of children in hotels, but in reality there are so many exceptions cited that it sounds more like a framework for this practice and the legalization of a device that does not was not. There is also no standard of supervision, that is to say no obligation to recruit in proportion to the number of children of qualified professionals, which is also a problem.