Closer to children and families : benefits and costs of improvements to children's residential care in Slovakia

Hargašová, Lucia (2019) Closer to children and families : benefits and costs of improvements to children's residential care in Slovakia. Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care, 18 (2). ISSN 1478-1840

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The purpose of the paper is to describe the transformation of the Slovak residential care system over the last two to three decades. The goal is to analyse the benefits and costs of the most important changes in light of the political, theoretical and ideological shifts. The residential care system for children in Slovakia has improved significantly in many respects. Children's homes have been transformed from large facilities into smaller units; and children under the age of six can only be placed in foster families or family care. Children's rights have been implemented through care policies, and there has been gradual recognition of the need to address the difficulties faced by birth families. Many decisions in policy and practice have been underpinned by a pro-family orientation and concepts such as attachment theory. Nonetheless, the process of pursuing better quality care and of building a system that meets international quality criteria has been followed by collateral shifts. Re-education, diagnostic and specialist facilities have not been the primary focus. The labelling of children in care as problematic and a derogatory discourse about Roma children has persisted to a significant extent. With the facilities no longer being under the direct control of the state administration and the education and health ministries, some of their psychological and pedagogical experience and knowledge has been lost.

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