The Catalan Ombudsman requests the Catalan Government to stimulate foster families policy by providing it with more resources and guarantees for children


(c) Image of the presentation of the report by the Ombudsman, Rafael Ribó

The Catalan Ombudsman reminds that children in family foster care is the most appropriate method to ensure their well-being and proposes to strengthen it by awareness-raising campaigns. Currently, the number of nest families is clearly insufficient to ho all children with foster care proposal. The cost of hosting children in care houses is far superior to the cost of hosting them in foster families.  

Shortcomings in the supervision and monitoring of the foster family system are evident and can lead to situations of vulnerability of children. To correct such situations, the Catalan Ombudsman:  

- recommends the setting of unified supervisions and monitoring instructions addressed to all supervisory bodies.

- suggests the making of a Charter of rights for children in foster care that states, inter alia,  the need to specifically identify a referential person, external to the foster family, for each children.

In the report on the follow-up of children in family foster care, the Catalan Ombudsman has recalled that all authorities and services involved is such foster care resource must act according to the principle of child’s best interest. To meet this objective, children and adolescent must be heard and their statements seriously considered. 

The Catalan Ombudsman has detected that an assessment of the situation of children is not always made, nor about their emotional and affective state neither has the children access to a designated person to whom rely in case of need. In such cases, children are vulnerable in front of a possible breach of keeper’s duties and difficulties to detect neglect or abuse situations increase.

The report also notes that there are some gaps in the support and monitoring of foster families and warns about the lack of normative development of the foster family caring system and the negative effects that the division of competences and administrative tasks may cause in the development of such resource.

The report impacts specifically on the fact that the family foster care is the most appropriate resource for raising a child when they can not grow in their own families. Its priority is recognized in the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child and in the state and regional regulations. In Catalonia, however, foster care is underdeveloped due to lack of commitment in its implementation.

The Catalan Ombudsman proposes a higher budgetary allocation for family foster care and an improvement of payment for foster families in order to increase the number of professionalized foster families. It is worth recalling, moreover, that currently the cost of foster care per family is far lower than the cost of foster homes. 

In this respect, although the number of children in family foster care has increased over the last years, in 2013 only a 13.6 % of children are in family care, while the proportion of children in foster homes accounts for a 38.3 %. For every child in family foster care, there are 2.8 in foster care homes and the number of foster families (621 throughout Catalonia) is still insignificant with respect to the total amount of children needing foster care, 7,104. Despite the fact that not all children may be suitable for family foster care, the figures highlight that the number of families volunteering for it is still insufficient.