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Domna Michailidou on The Smile of the Child: "We are offering solutions, not extensions"

Smile of the Child
17 Mar 2023 / 13:55

ATHENS. "The state cannot provide funding for a facility with millions in reserves."

There will be no extension and Smile of the Child has funds available! So said Domna Michailidou, the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, in reply to a question from Alekos Avlonitis on Wednesday. During a parliamentary inquiry, the Corfu Syriza MP requested an extension for the renewal of the Magoulades facility's funding.

New regulations

Deputy Minister Michailidou told Avlonitis, "...we're not going to talk about an extension before the ministerial decision has even begun to function."

Regarding the new regulations, she said, ""Thirty years after the 1995 legislation, we have brought in these absolutely necessary rules, not just by ourselves, but in consultation with the Ombudsman, the Assistant Ombudsman for Children's Rights, UNICEF, child protection agencies, and ESAMEA, so that we can make rules that provide the minimum solutions, the truly minimal.

"A minimum of two square metres per infant and five square metres per teenager is not excessive. Twenty square metre a facility which houses twenty children is not excessive when an average family kitchen is eight to nine square metres.

"What are we asking? We are asking all facilities to see what they can do in a year to adapt to these regulations. And as you, yourself, said quite clearly and as I understand it, the facility stated before Christmas that we were closing them."

The Smile of the Child has funds - does it have the will?

Regarding the funding for the adaptation to the new standards, "..You told me that there is a report from the Technical Chamber of Greece and I'm glad because I wasn't aware of it. What is needed? Does the organisation have the money? For an organisation with  reserves in the millions, it's obvious that for a matter of €70,000-80,000, it can find the money. I understand that they already have the money several times over. If they come and tell us again that we may have millions in reserves but we can't find €70,000-80,000, we'll see how the Ministry can provide support."

Deinstitutionalisation

The Deputy Minister spoke about the fate of the resident children, "... Just a week ago, we released the programme with the ministerial decision and funding, even for a rich, if you want, facility, for semi-autonomous living accommodation. The state funds apartments both for the building and staffing for children aged fifteen and over. Out of the fourteen children at this facility, seven are over fifteen years old. So, we want these seven to go to semi-autonomous living accommodation in Corfu, close to their school, close to their friends, within the urban fabric.

"For the other seven children, what we hope for is to find another solution. Do you want it to be €70,000-80,000 so that this or another facility can be adapted, where the children can be transferred, using the reserves that The Smile of the Child has?"

The model will necessarily change

"The future of deinstitutionalization is not that all institutions will close, it is that they will be transformed into facilities that support vulnerable families. We know which families are vulnerable. Both centrally and locally, we know which families are vulnerable. So let's all sit down together and see how all of this can be done. We have two more months left.

If the construction work starts - you have the study there - and if the €60,000 is given by the foundation, which has such reserves, so that the adaptions can be made, I think we will all be better off, first and foremost the children and then all of us as a society, where we set rules where they are needed and learn to follow them."