There are more than 1,500 young children living in institutions in Croatia, waiting for an opportunity to grow up in a family, it was said at a presentation of a charity campaign "Little things make a family happy. To have a family is a big thing" organised by UNICEF and the Electrolux company aimed at providing quality foster care for children without parental care.
Electrolux will donate money from every household appliance sold to orphanages in an effort to provide what they need most and that is to live in a family environment. Donations collected through UNICEF's "Every child needs a family" campaign will be invested as support for foster families for education and equipment and to help increase the number of foster families.
Underlining that more than 1,500 children live in institutions in Croatia, the head of UNICEF's office in Croatia Valentina Otmacic said that there is a positive trend with fewer children in institutions and an increasing number of children in foster families. She warned though that the situation for certain groups of children was more challenging, for instance, children with disabilities who require special forms of foster care.
Some regions have a tradition of fostering children, particularly central Croatia, Varazdin and Osijek whereas it is necessary to work more for this to be the case in Dalmatia, Dubrovnik and their hinterlands and the islands.
Otmacic stressed that allowances paid to foster parents barely cover a child's needs, which was confirmed by NGO activist Mladenka Ravenski who said that the allowance for each child was between HRK 1,800 and HRK 2,000 per month and the foster parent received HRK 500.
Foster parents, often are not given expert support. There are too few social workers for this. Ravenski believes that the quality of foster care could be improved if it was recognised as a profession.
Each child needs a family and material security is vital as is awareness and the promotion of foster care, Social Policy and Youth Minister Bernadica Juretic said. She added that it was sad that there are still so many children in institutions and underlined that her ministry's had placed foster care and deinstitutionalisation as a priority.