What the new Child Protection Act changes

The law of February 7, 2022, when it “concerns the protection of children”, is intended primarily to respond to investigations or testimonies from former children in care and to complete the National Strategy for the Prevention and Protection of Childhood 2020-2022. The departmental councils maintain the modification of the wages and working conditions of family helpers and the creation of a national database of permits granted, suspended and revoked (arts. 28 to 31). The definition of abuse now appears as one of the general principles that guide social and medico-social actions (Social Actions and Family Code, art. L.119-1) and to protect children from violence, the departmental councils are introducing a systematic and Conduct periodic criminal record reviews of all professionals and volunteers working with children in institutions
Minors (Article 20).

Every social or medico-social facility defines its policy to combat abuse and appoints a third authority to which the young people admitted can turn in case of difficulties (Articles 22, 23). In all departments, violent crimes are reported on the basis of the National Health Authority’s National Archives for the Assessment of Information of Concern (Article 24). Any minor who becomes a victim of prostitution is registered by the Youth Welfare Office (ASE) and thus benefits from material, psychological and educational support (art. 19). For the child protection sector, the law envisages three key actions: deinstitutionalization, the end of hotel use, and the dry exit from the ASE. It also reviews the criteria for the distribution of unaccompanied minors (UMs) as well as national child protection governance.

Less institution, more humanity

Legislators show a desire to deinstitutionalize child protection, such as the inclusive shift in the disabled and the residential shift for the elderly. Article 1 of the law favors, except in emergencies, the maintenance of the child with “a family member or a trusted third party” rather than placement with the ASE departmental service or an approved health or educational facility or service. This option, evaluated by the educational services, must be compatible with the Project for the Child (PPE) and be implemented after hearing the child capable of discernment. Upon adoption, the family member or third party to whom the child is entrusted will be accompanied either as part of an open-ended educational assistance measure or by a reference person from the ASE service or an authorized body.

This systematic search for the possibility of entrusting the child to a member of the family, a neighbor or a known friend goes hand in hand with the prohibition on separating siblings, except in the interests of the child. In case of separation of siblings, the ASE justifies its decision and informs the competent judge within 48 hours (art. 5, 27).

If placement in the ASE is unavoidable, the head of the departmental council systematically proposes the appointment of one or more godparents in order to establish a lasting relationship, coordinated by an association and built in the form of regular time spent together between the child and the godfather Godmother under the supervision of the ASE. Minors who are temporarily or permanently deprived of the protection of their families, so-called “unaccompanied minors”, are also eligible for this sponsorship. A child in the care of ASE can also benefit from mentoring when entering secondary school. This mutual learning-based relationship of support and support is intended to promote the child’s autonomy and development. Sponsorship and mentoring are included in the PSA (Article 9).

Finally, the minor cared for by the ASE can, in consultation with their reference person, nominate an adult person of trust, a parent or another person of their choice. At his request, the person of trust accompanies him on his tracks (Article 17).

Hotel overnight stays banned in 2024

While a November 2020 report by the General Inspectorate for Social Affairs pointed out the lack of safety of this method of accommodation, hotel accommodation is prohibited from February 1, 2024. Age 21 years according to the ASE can, except during school holidays and public holidays, only by family assistants or are provided in facilities and services that are approved,
in particular the departmental public bodies of the ASE.

As a transitional measure, no minor or young person entrusted to the ASE may stay longer than two months in a hotel or in a hotel residence with a social vocation and in case of emergency or in the accommodation of minors in a “Youth and Sport” or the President of the Departmental Council for the Reception of Minors explained in a customary and collective manner.These last two types of treatment are, however, forbidden to minors with a disability, multiple disabilities or a health problem that affects them.

Reinforced security conditions, a minimum level of surveillance and surveillance of the minors concerned must be put in place (Art. 7). Additionally, the ASE can no longer urgently change a child’s placement without notifying the judge within forty-eight hours. He checks whether the measure is in the best interests of the child. This change must be justified (Article 27).

End of dry trips from the youth welfare office

Third emblematic measure, the recognition by the ASE of the right to care for adults under 21 and emancipated minors without means or sufficient support if they were entrusted to the ASE before they came of age. Funding from the departments and the state is thus guaranteed for 18 to 21 year olds.

A “right of return” to the ASE is also expressly granted to young people under the age of 21 who, at the age of 18, refused to extend the funding or who no longer met the requirements and subsequently have difficulties with social integration. The performance of the youth work contract is systematically adults under the age of 21 and minors of consent, as well as adults under the age of 21 without aftercare who are entrusted to a public institution or an authorized association, to offer the judicial protection of minors and have
Need for support (Article 10).

Emancipated minors or adults under the age of 21 who were taken into care by the ASE before coming of age now have priority access to social housing for three years after the last day of their care (Art. 15).

No later than one year before he turns 18 and as soon as possible when he is taken on at the age of seventeen, the minor admitted will be invited by the services of the ASE for an interview “to review his career, to tell him about his to inform rights, consider with him and communicate to him the conditions for his support of autonomy The unaccompanied minor will be informed during this interview of his support by the ASE to obtain a residence permit upon reaching majority or, where appropriate, an application for asylum (Art. 16). Six months after leaving the ASE, the adult or the emancipated minor is received by the service to evaluate his career and his access to autonomy (Art. 17). Participate in a conversation that can exceptionally be repeated.

Two new criteria and a file

In addition to demographic and geographic isolation, there are two criteria for the distribution of unaccompanied minors, on the one hand the socio-economic characteristics of the department, in particular the level of poverty, and on the other hand action in favor of unaccompanied minors on their 18th birthday via the number of youth-adult contracts (Art .38). The practice of re-evaluating the minority of unaccompanied minors is prohibited (Article 39).

Under threat of withdrawal of the lump sum contribution from the state, all departments must use the file to help assess the minority and register therein those who declare themselves to be unaccompanied minors unless the minority is evident. In addition, the departments must transmit to the prefect every month their decisions on the evaluation of persons who declare themselves to be unaccompanied minors (art. 40).

Coordination of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the protection of the child

To guide child protection policy at the national level, a Public Interest Group (GIP) on Child Protection, Adoption and Access to Personal Origins was established to support the state and county councils. A National Child Protection Council will be established (Article 36).

Maternal and child protection services are also strengthened in their role as key public health actors (Article 32). On an experimental basis, in the volunteer departments of children’s and family homes (Article 33) and a departmental committee for protection will be created
Child Protection (Art. 37), which will bring together local child protection actors – ministries, states, judicial authorities, professionals, family allowance funds – to articulate their actions, define common orientations and take coordinated initiatives, especially with regard to prevention.

These provisions are still subject to the signing of their implementing regulations. Their funding, which is not budgeted under the 2022 Treasury Act, awaits the country’s announcement of support. Otherwise, their implementation by the ministries seems threatened by bloodless finances and very limited financial autonomy.

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