The results of the compliance audit on the procedures for the special protection of children at risk, approved throughout the CoARM’s Decision no. 63 from December 22, 2022 were presented by the auditors of the Court of Accounts of the Republic of Moldova (CoARM), today, May 24, within the Public Finance Control Committee (PFCC).
In this context, Sergiu Știrbu, Member of the CoARM and the auditors responsible for the audit reported on the gaps and deficiencies found within 12 territorial guardianship authorities.
According to statistical data, about 60% of children in the Republic of Moldova live with both parents, and 11% do not live with any of the biological parents. About 28% of children in the country live below the poverty line.
According to the systematized audit data, during 2019-2021, the territorial guardianship authorities for the protection of children's rights ensured the placement of about 15 thousand children, which indicates a decreasing trend. The number of children placed in placement-type services in developing community centers and homes is also decreasing, priority being given to social services, which keep the child in a family environment. The Court of Accounts found that, in the case of children at risk, the state institutions ensured the evaluation, identification, placement and monitoring of children at risk, some non-compliances being identified.
Thus, the audit revealed that the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection (MLSP) does not have the State Register of children at risk and of children separated from their parents, the statistical data being collected from the Local Guardianship Authorities, which have improvised registers.
The Court of Accounts found non-compliance with the legal framework and the lack of effective monitoring by the local public administration authorities (LPAA) in the context of providing social housing for orphans who have reached the age of majority. The assessment of the situation within 12 LPAs of level I and II established that during 2019-2022, out of 24 children who left the foster care institution upon reaching the age of majority, only 8 young people from 3 local public authorities received residential spaces. It is mentioned that, in 9 LPAs of level II, 16 children have not been assigned social housing until now. The regulatory non-fulfillment of their duties was motivated by the entities due to the lack of available housing spaces.
The normative framework regarding national and international adoption regulates the attributions of central public authorities, territorial guardianship authorities at the level of public authorities of rank I and II. According to the data from the State Register of Adoption, 305 children were adopted between 2019 and 2022, of which 282 children were adopted through the national adoption procedure and 23 children through international adoption.
The audit detected non-compliances in the adoption process of children at risk, such as the lack of monitoring mechanisms for children adopted through the national adoption procedure and left with their adopted parents abroad. 18 children adopted through the national adoption procedure went abroad with their adoptive parents, not being monitored post-adoption by the responsible local authorities. The existing legal framework does not delineate the responsibilities of national authorities regarding responsibility for monitoring these adopted children.
Tatiana Cunetchi, the Chairperson of the Public Finance Control Committee, thanked the Court of Accounts for addressing such an important issue for the society. The deputy emphasized that the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection must take all the necessary measures to remedy the identified deficiencies, including by improving the regulatory framework.