The increase in resources has not averted the saturation of the childhood protection system


The Catalan Ombudsman presented the special report, "Protection of children at high social risk in Catalonia" to Parliament. The report offers an overarching diagnosis of the protection system and reveals indicators of its saturation and several shortcomings.

Analysis of the figures points to a significant increase in the resources allocated to the protection system. They have risen by 28% in the 2003-2007 period. This is in line with the increase in the number of children under protection (27%). That notwithstanding, the increased number of professionals on EAIAs (Children and Adolescent Affairs Units - CAAU) and greater residential capacity have not kept the centres from reaching, and sometimes exceeding, their capacity limit.

Many children are unable to access the resource best suited to their needs. The report highlights, among a wealth of other details, the overcrowding of certain facilities, some of which are near 150% occupancy of their capacity. Also notable is the fact that there are 190 children awaiting admission to a residential centre and a dire lack of family care givers, which has caused this resource to lose ground before residential centres.

The report also discusses the lack of space at intensive-education residential centres, and a worrisome deficit of facilities capable o handling children with mental health problems.

The analysis of the child's situation and the resource allocation processes are often too prolonged. Likewise, the report highlights the fact that 5% of children at high risk have CAAU analyses pending. This lack of appropriate protection resources also translates into professionals believing that in 20% of cases their protection proposals are not the ones eventually assigned, or the 23% of protected minors under two who are in residential shelters due to a shortage of emergency family care givers and diagnosis.