The purpose of this Peer Review is to discuss challenges and good practices in providing foster care services to children without adequate parental care.
The event focused on standards for foster families, professional care schemes as well as measures to prepare and support foster carers of children with severe disabilities.
The Peer Review was hosted by the Croatian Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy and was organised in cooperation with the Mutual Learning Services.
Around 40 participants from different countries attended this event, namely: Croatia (the host country), Czechia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Spain. Representatives of the European Commission and a thematic expert put the topic in the wider context of EU policy. National experts as well as European and local NGOs representatives also attended the event.
Papers and reports developed for this mutual learning event will be published on this website after the peer review.
The process of transition from institutional to community-based care in Croatia started in the 1990’s and registered an acceleration after 2010, as a result of the pre-accession negotiations between Croatia and the EU and the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). Through a series of legislative and policy measures, Croatia strived to reduce the number of children entering into institutions and increase exiting from institutions into new forms of care, particularly stimulating family reintegration. An important element of this strategy was strengthening the foster care system that, in Croatia, is offered to both children and adults. In June 2019, 2 848 foster families were offering foster care to 6 367 people, out of which 2 111 were children
To strengthen the foster care system further, the Croatian Government put in place several new measures. In 2018, a national campaign aimed at recruiting new foster families was launched. In 2019, the figure of professional carers was introduced by the Foster Care Act in order to support foster families financially and increase the quality of their care, particularly for children with special needs. Moreover, a comprehensive curriculum for the education of foster parents was developed to ensure a standardised approach to their recruitment and training by social welfare centres. In 2020, Croatia counted 115 professional carers, but none provided foster care to children with special needs.