Project on deaths of children in out-of-home care completed

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The placement of children in institutions or foster families that ignored or neglected their needs led to violence and mistreatment as well as to violent deaths and suicides.

In the 20th century, many children and young people in care were subjected to severe abuse, sometimes with a fatal outcome. They were placed in institutions or with foster families that ignored or neglected their needs. The children were not safe in these families and institutions, and some were exposed to violence and discrimination that even led to suicide in some cases. And yet for a long time the supervision of children’s homes and foster families was neglected. Cases of violent death among cared-for children were excused or concealed, and those responsible often went unpunished.

When deciding where a child would be placed, secure funding was deemed more important than the question of whether the location suited the child's needs. If the children and young people rejected the location, this was seen purely as a deficit on their part. Its suitability was not questioned. In other cases, there was an additional problem – a lack of space in the specialists’ preferred institutions.

Today, children have the right to be involved in these decisions. However, this right is not always put into practice appropriately. As a result, children and young people are often insufficiently involved in the decision-making processes concerning their out-of-home placement. To avoid misplacements, it is important for children and young people to be fully involved in decisions regarding their placement. They should be made aware of their rights and options, for example, and be given an opportunity to express their wishes and needs.