Initiator: Foundation Bambini in Emergenza
The objective of the project is to find a “mother” for 20 abandoned children, who live in the Pilot Centre Andrea Damato, a maternal assistant who will treat them with love and raise them in a healthy and harmonious way.
The project will be implemented like a fighting instrument against minors’ abandonment by promoting values that respect human dignity, solidarity, “family culture”, values that have been threatened for tens of years because of the politic and socio-economic context in our country.
The professional profile of maternal assistant exists in Romania for many years. The maternal assistant takes care of a child or even two (the maximum number is 3 children and only if these children are relatives. The placement may take years, even up to the age of 18 years or graduation if the reintegration in the natural enlarged family or adoption are not possible. Many times the child remains member of the family, even if the placement ended, or he/she even gets adopted by the maternal assistant.
In order to cover the necessary expenses for the minor, the maternal assistant receives a monthly cash contribution in an amount established by specific legislation in the field (foster family Statute Law 272/2004 on the protection and promotion of children's rights) and governing contractual relationship between the "foster mother" and the institution responsible and accredited to provide social services with professional caregivers.
Romania is still on the first place in Europe (according the studies made by UNICEF) regarding the number of children abandoned in maternities. Today, the protection system is still insufficiently developed to answer these needs, most often an abandoned child spends months or even years in a hospital room and unfortunately there are many concrete experiences in this regard. The trauma of the abandonment marks forever the child, especially if there is no intervention before the age of 6 months (disorder or infant attachment depression, described by psychology studies). Thus, we try to reduce the period in which the child is abandoned in a hospital by taking them in the family houses of the Pilot Centre Andreea Damato where they are received with love and affection by a team with expertize and dedicated to their care. The children develop, enjoy the best conditions and at the age of 18 months the medical situation also is clarified. After this period the priority becomes finding a family for each child and reducing the time spent with a foster family. The Foundation developed its own maternal assistance network and offered families to 14 children. Other 25 children that are in the centre are waiting for this chance and are always asking “when is my family coming to take me?”. For them this family exists somewhere, it is on its way and it should arrive any moment now. The argument of the project is the fact that family represents the privileged environment for children, the only environment that can offer security, affection, adequate socializing and learning life skills naturally and directly.
The project “A mother for me too” involves three steps, each with specific activities:
Step 1: recruiting, selecting and training a number or 10 maternal assistants:
The information and the counselling of the candidates will continue during the next five meetings of collecting information, analysis of documents (medical, legal, housing/right to use the dwelling) and references offered by various community members from the candidates’ residency. This stage ends with the final evaluation of the Committee for Child Protection and the granting of the maternal assistant certificate, which gives them the right to exercise this profession and offers them a professional status.
Step 2: The child’s accommodation with the family – during this stage, the candidates that promoted the previous steps of evaluation start to meet with the child, first at the Centre and then during family visits. This is the most delicate stage of the project: the birth of the relation between mother and child. During this stage it is necessary to monito and supervise the process and all the actors involved, step by step, continuously and constantly.
Step 3: Monitoring the placement – the integration in the family will be monitored for at least 12 months since the accommodation stage ends and the child has moved in with the family, by meetings that have as purpose to monitor the psyho-emotional disposition of the child, of the maternal assistant and of all family members, the relationship between them and the physical development of the child, the integration in the new educational environment (kindergarten-school), health state. The frequency of the meetings will be one visit per week in the first 6 months and 2 visits per month in the next 6 months or any time necessary. After the first year in the family, the meetings will have a frequency of 1 visit per month.
Children with ages between 1 and 7 years, residents of the Pilot Centre Andreea Damato.
As a result of the project, a number of 10 or 20 children (taking into consideration the fact that a maternal assistant can take care of 2 children) will have the chance to have a “mother”. Thanks to this chance, the child does not only receive a family but also a future, because only an authentic family environment can offer the guarantee of a real social integration and also the capacity to establish a healthy family.
More details about the project you can find on the website: www.bambiniinemergenza.org.