In the past fifteen years 572 Czech children found adoptive parents abroad, according to information released by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. 379 of them were boys, 193 girls. The children found new homes predominantly in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Italy. Many of the children had been in children’s homes for over three years and the chance of finding adoptive parents for them in the Czech Republic was small.
President Milos Zeman has accused Norway’s child welfare organization Barnevernet of kidnapping children. In his regular interview from Lany chateau carried by Blesk TV, Mr Zeman said Barnevernet employed gangster-like practices and the Czech government should take stronger action, such as recalling the Czech ambassador to Norway for consultations. The president said the Norwegian ambassador to Prague was not welcome at Prague Castle and would not receive an invitation to his annual meeting with foreign ambassadors.
Over two hundred people gathered outside the Norwegian embassy in Prague on Saturday to protest against Barnevernet’s policy of taking children away from their families. Barnevernet’s policy stirred fresh anger in the Czech Republic after the organization removed a seriously ill nine-month-old baby from the care of its Czech mother and Norwegian father in late December. They said the parents had not sufficiently bonded with the infant, who has a rare genetic condition and is in hospital awaiting a kidney transplant. Last year a Norwegian court ruled that two boys removed from their Czech parents by Barnevernet were to be put up for adoption. The Prague protest is part of a chain of demonstrations against Bernevernet in a number of countries.
Social services in Norway have removed a seriously ill nine-month-old baby from the care of its Czech mother and Norwegian father. They said the parents had not sufficiently bonded with the infant, who has a rare genetic condition and is in hospital awaiting a kidney transplant. The news was made public by Jitka Chalánková, who is on the Czech lower house’s Social Affairs Committee. She said the couple faced a tough court battle, as Czechs were aware from other cases. Last year a Norwegian court ruled that two boys removed from their Czech parents were to be put up for adoption.
Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksova is proposing an amendment to the law which would enable fathers to go on a short paternity leave in the first six weeks following their childs birth. The minister proposes a seven day paternity leave during which the state would pay out 70 percent of the fathers salary. The government is to debate the proposal in early February.
Hundreds of children are taken away from their families every year because of abuse and neglect and the number keeps increasing, according to an annual report on child protection by the Ministry of Social Affairs. The number of cases involving social workers has doubled in the past ten years. While in 2005, social workers were involved in 4000 cases, in 2014 the figures stood at nearly 8,500. Over 1200 children had to move to their relatives, children’s homes or foster parents in 2014.
The Brno district of Maloměřice-Obřany has opened a new sports centre which cost almost 32 million crowns. The centre is to be used by used by teachers and children from the adjacent elementary school but will also be used for ball sports and as a space for arts and culture. The sports centre was largely funded from European funds; two million crowns were provided by the local district council.
The Czech government’s Human Rights Council is to ask legislators to pass new laws preventing children younger than seven from ending up in institutionalized care. Instead, at risk or unwanted children will be placed in family or foster homes, with institutionalization only occurring as a last resort.
The government’s council for human rights is pushing for an amendment to the law which would prevent children under the age of seven being placed in institutionalized care. According to a proposal which the government is to debate early next year care for young children should be provided by surrogate families. The Czech Republic has long been criticised by child rights organisations for the excessively high number of children placed in institutions.
For the third year now children of Czech origin living abroad are taking part in a competition that aims to help them connect with their roots. The Czech Honza competition, named after a popular Czech fairytale character who went out into the world to come back much wiser, is the brainchild of Iva Crookston, who has lived in the US for over ten years. I talked to Iva about the project and first asked her how the idea of holding a competition for Czech children abroad emerged.
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