278 children on care orders

Children-at-home

There are 278 children who are currently under a care order, Family Minister Michael Falzon confirmed toay.

Falzon provided the figures in response to a parliamentary question by PN MP Ivan Bartolo. He noted that the care orders were primarily issued due to negligence, parents’ inability to care for their children due to physical or mental health problems, parental death, physical or sexual abuse, as well as any other risks minor children may be exposed to in their home environment.

Care orders are issued by Aġenzija Appoġġ, whose Child Protection Services were the focus of a recent performance audit by the National Audit Office.

Though the NAO’s assessment of the Child Protection Services was generally positive, the office did highlight that there were insufficient placements for children on care orders.

Appoġġ is reliant on third parties to house children on care orders, through fostering as well as agreements with NGOs and Church-owned homes. However, the number of places available was found to be consistently lower than the number required, a situation which leads to children being constrained to live in unsuitable environments for longer than necessary.