Children in the alternative care system: data from Florence and Prato

Children in the alternative care system: data from Florence and Prato

When a child lives in a highly neglectful family, the state has a duty to remove him/her from the family, place him/her in an alternative care system that ensures the maintenance, emotional relationships and care that he/she needs, and in the meantime support the family of origin in order to facilitate the possibility of the child’s return to the family. Out-of-home care may take place in a family or in a community. The choice of one or the other type of care depends on the characteristics of the child and the offer of the territory. For this reason, local protection systems are essential to accompany the child during this delicate phase and to prevent future scenarios of poverty, social exclusion and violence.

The European project CarINg aims at improving local protection systems in the municipalities of Florence and the Prato area through capacity building of operators and the exchange of good practices and methodologies. CarINg aims to develop good practices at local level that can then be replicated elsewhere.

To get a clearer picture of the issue, the researchers involved in the project studied the framework of protection practices and systems in the two areas. The study intends to determine what can be improved in order to offer better support to both social workers and care leavers in their out-of-home care (foster care and community care) and in particular at the moment of preparation for autonomy, i.e. when the young people leave the various guardianship systems in which they have been placed.

The results of the study are contained in the project’s Situation Analysis Report. However, in order to get an idea of the extent of the phenomenon of children and adolescents placed in families or communities, below are the figures and statistics concerning the two areas.

MUNICIPALITY OF FLORENCE

  • Minori italiani
  • Minori stranieri
  • Minori stranieri non accompagnati

The chart on the left shows the number of children for whom the local social services of the municipality of Florence have opened a case in 2020. Out of the 3545 children placed with social services, it can be observed that 1790 are native minors (51%), while 1755 are foreign (49%).

Children in kinship care

Te chart on the right shows the number of children in alternative care: children that are separated from the family of origin can be placed with a family setting. The family setting can be either an intra-family setting, meaning that the child is taken into care by someone within the fourth degree of kinship, or in a hetero-family setting, in which the child is placed with a household with which he/she has no kinship relations.

care leaver Firenze Prato accoglienza famiglia struttura comunità kinship foster care alternative care tutela CarINg
care leaver Firenze Prato accoglienza famiglia struttura comunità kinship foster care alternative care tutela CarINg
care leaver Firenze Prato accoglienza famiglia struttura comunità kinship foster care alternative care tutela alternativa CarINg

The two graphs above show the characteristics of the young people placed in alternative protection systems with families (intra- and extra-family reception) in the Municipality of Florence. There are a total of 43 females, 32 Italian and 11 foreign, while there are 55 males, 30 Italian and 22 foreign.

Among the males, the majority are those aged between 11 and 14, while among the females the majority are those aged between 15 and 17.

Children in residential care

care leaver Firenze Prato accoglienza famiglia struttura comunità kinship foster care alternative care tutela CarINg

Among the young people accommodated in the communities, the majority are foreign minors and a large proportion of them are unaccompanied foreign minors.

care leaver Firenze Prato accoglienza famiglia struttura comunità kinship foster care alternative care tutela CarINg
care leaver Firenze Prato accoglienza famiglia struttura comunità kinship foster care alternative care tutela alternativa CarINg

As can be observed, the majority of young people placed in residential care are adolescents. This is consistent with the fact that the youngest children are placed with families (kinship or foster care) as a priority. In the reception facilities, 82 (67%) of the females taken in are aged between 15 and 17, while the majority of males are divided between those aged between 11 and 14, 12 (43%), and those aged between 15 and 17, 10 (36%).

MUNICIPALITY OF PRATO

The graph on the right shows the number of young people taken into alternative care by the social services of the Società della Salute dell’Area Pratese in 2020. Italian and foreign children are equally distributed. Among those taken into the alternative care system, 64% are placed within family care (kinship or foster care) and are mostly young Italians. While 36% live in residential care and are mostly adolescents of foreign origin (including unaccompanied foreign minors).

  • Minori italiani
  • Minori stranieri
  • Minori stranieri non accompagnati

Children in kinship or foster care

care leaver Firenze Prato accoglienza famiglia struttura comunità kinship foster care alternative care tutela alternativa CarINg

Among the young people in kinship and foster care, the majority are Italian (58%) while unaccompanied foreign minors are present to a much lesser extent (8%).

care leaver Firenze Prato accoglienza famiglia struttura comunità kinship foster care alternative care tutela alternativa CarINg
care leaver Firenze Prato accoglienza famiglia struttura comunità kinship foster care alternative care tutela alternativa CarINg

The two graphs above show the characteristics of young people placed in family care (kinship and foster care) in the Municipality of Prato. There are a total of 34 females, 23 Italian and 11 foreign, while there are 42 males, 21 Italian and 21 foreign.

Males and females aged between 11 and 14 are in the majority in the  family care system with 34% and 32% respectively.

Children in residential care

In the Prato area, too, the majority of young people placed in residential care are foreigners and among them a large number are unaccompanied foreign minors.

care leaver Firenze Prato accoglienza famiglia struttura comunità kinship foster care alternative care tutela CarINg
care leaver Firenze Prato accoglienza famiglia struttura comunità kinship foster care alternative care tutela CarINg
care leaver Firenze Prato accoglienza famiglia struttura comunità kinship foster care alternative care tutela CarINg /

The two graphs above show the characteristics of the young people placed in residentaialprotection systems in the communities in the Prato area. There are a total of 15 females, 4 Italians and 11 foreigners, while there are 27 males, 10 Italians and 17 foreigners.

The majority of females and males are between 15 and 17 years old and represent 54% and 43% respectively.

For a more detailed overview of the reception practices in the two municipalities, please read the Situation Analysis Report that you can find in the Repository section of the website.

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