Social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center) has proposed doubling childcare support for foster families. The move comes following reported under-funding by Tallinn City Government, where the latter had around a million euros left in its coffers from last year which had been earmarked for foster and care home support in the city.
The minimum level of support a foster family would be half of the minimum wage per child, the Ministry of Social Affairs said. The support itself would be payable by the local authority, whose role, Kiik says, has increased significantly in recent years in the welfare of children left without parental care.
The state currently allocates funds to local governments for the provision, organization and support of care and support families via a support fund.
"Given the unmet needs in the field of substitution care, the emergence of a €3.9 million balance in the support fund is particularly troubling," Kiik said, according to ERR's online Estonian news.
"I have therefore in recent weeks been meeting with experts from local authorities as well as industry and NGOs, emphasizing that the direction of family-based care is correct and the burden shared between the right parties, but it needs more attention and support," Kiik went on.
While a minimum level of support needs to be imposed, each municipality can opt to provide a larger amount of support for care families, taking into account the additional needs of the family as well as the care of the actual child(ren) Kiik said.
The Association of Estonian Cities and Municipalities (Eesti Linnade ja Valdade Liit) as well as several representative organizations have made several proposals to the ministry to solve the issues related to foster families, including access to social guarantees, remuneration and support and the availability of the necessary support network and services. The ministry is set to work out possible solutions and then make appropriate proposals for legislative changes, due to enter into force at the beginning of July.
In 2020, local governments were allocated €18.4 million, up from €17.8 million the previous year and approximately €16.8 million in 2018.
At the beginning of last year, funds in local governments totaled €1.8 million, but by early 2020 this had already increased to €3.9 million.
In Tallinn, these funds had reportedly been mismanaged by the city government.
In 2019, the state provided the City of Tallinn with €1,385 per child in foster care support, of which the city allocated €385 per child in the case of a care home and €240 per month per foster child, or about €1,000 less per child than what was allocated.
This left the city with around a million euros leftover in funds last year which had been supposed to go on child support, which later led to a vote of no-confidence at the city council chambers in deputy mayor Betina Beškina (Center). The vote failed and Beškina remains in office.
Editor: Andrew Whyte