“From the start we have been striving for the deinstitutionalisation of children. We do not want children to spend their childhood and teenage years in institutions and, of course, we do not want them to remain in institutions as adults, with benefits as their sole source of income,” Deputy Labour Minister for Welfare and Social Solidarity Issues Domna Michailidou said in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency released on Monday.
In this, she noted that a discussion was underway with the Hotel Chamber of Greece so that young adults over 18 living in orphanages can find good jobs and for teenagers aged 16 to 18 to get summer internships in positions that interest them.
“We are not changing the law, we are simply opening up paths outside the institutions for children that SYRIZA, through its inaction as a government, allowed to grow up in orphanages,” she said.
Michailidou also outlined key elements of a draft bill for enhancing social protection that she said would make every public, municipal and private child protection structure a place of safety and care.
Every potential worker in such a facility must have a clean criminal record for offences such as sexual indecency, crimes against life, child abuse, domestic violence, drug dealing and human trafficking, while establishing someone responsible for the minors in each facility.
“What we want to achieve through the new draft law is protection and a good quality of life for children, the elderly and people with disabilities,” she added. The personal assistant for people with disabilities was a move in this direction, she noted, with the aim being to achieve an independent lifestyle combined with coverage of basic needs through the provision of services, as opposed to benefits.
She also spoke about the new framework for preschool education, saying it aimed to create equal opportunities for children. “We seek to establish the right priorities for daycare centres. For the first time we are introducing a uniform, comprehensive programme on a daily basis, with plentiful stimuli and quality activities for babies and children. We are also establishing special scientific tests for the early detection of disabilities, disorders and learning difficulties, together with regular observation by the staff. In all this we want parents to have an active role, to be more than just observers,” she added.