Support for children with behavioral issues needs work, says auditor

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State-provided support for children with behavioral issues is fragmented and insufficient, said Maija Āboliņa, member of the State Audit Council, on Latvian Television October 19.

State Audit recently assessed whether a child with behavioral problems or at risk of such and the child's family have the opportunity to obtain the necessary support. It is concluded that information on children is too fragmented to assess the seriousness of the situation. Children with behavioral problems have to be worked with early, local governments cannot provide it, work with children is often formal, and children continue to be punished administratively, said Āboliņa. 

“State audit has collected data available in national and local government systems and has concluded that in 2020, when there were around 360,000 children in total, there were around 10,000 children who committed offenses, administrative or criminal offenses; 36,000 children at risk of taking the offenders' path in the future,” said Āboliņa.

These databases did not include all children suffering from mobbing at school, depression or other illnesses and problems. Āboliņa added that there was no diagnosis of a “child with behavioral problems”, consisting of highly fragmented available information, various features, and criteria that can be collected by these figures.

Specialists in different sectors have been increasingly talking about having to work early with children, so State Audit looked at early work with children in practice.

“In our country, it is the primary responsibility of municipalities. The prevention work of the infringer should be performed by local governments in developing social behavior adjustment programs, identifying the needs of the child, the necessary services. The work is formal,” said Ābolņa.

Administrative violations of children are more serious problems. Children continue to be administratively punished, fines are imposed but do not work with causes.

The deadline for the implementation of the State Audit recommendations is 2026 when changes are expected. First of all, the child should be freed from administrative punishment. We need to think about services early when there is still a risk stage, said Āboliņa, with the minimum service package of educational lessons for parents, dependency prevention and treatment for parents, family assistant service, and mentors for children.

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