Guardians and Fosterfamilies
In Latvia out-of-family care may be implemented by two legal means – by guardians and foster families. Guardians are the oldest and most popular means of care.
At the beginning of 2013, 5,100 children (63 %) were under guardianship, 1,200 (14 %) children lived in foster families, and 1,900 (23 %) children – in orphanages.
Guardians and foster families receive different financial support and have different legal rights when defending rights of a child under care.
- According to the law, orphans or children left without parental care have one and the same status. However, depending on the means of care the former receive sufficient financing, while the latter – receive financing that is insignificant.
Remuneration for fulfillment of a guardian’s duties is EUR 54.07 per month, irrespective of the number of children under guardianship (paid by the State).
Guardian’s allowance for maintenance of a child is EUR 45.53 per month (paid by the State).
Remuneration for fulfillment of a foster family’s duties is EUR 113.83 per month, irrespective of the number of children raised by the foster family (paid by the State).
The municipality pays the foster family allowance for the maintenance of a child, and the amount can be different in each municipality. For instance, in the Municipality of the City Riga, the foster family allowance for maintenance of each child is 75 % of the minimum monthly salary set in the Republic of Latvia, which is currently EUR 240.00 per month.
At the same time the State pays over EUR 700 per month for maintenance of one child in an orphanage.
- The second significant difference lies in terminology. The term “guardianship” refers to a long-term form of care (until a child reaches the age of 18), while the term “foster family” refers to providing short-term care (until a child is returned to his or her family or placed for adoption)
In reality children stay in foster families for several years, while it is still considered short-term care and the possibility of adoption can be brought up at any time. Thus it is difficult for foster families in Latvia to create a stable and safe environment for children, when the future is so unclear.
- The third difference is that the guardian represents the interests of a child under guardianship themselves. Despite the fact that persons spending time with the children on a daily basis are the ones that are more aware of the children’s interests and needs more than any other person, personal and property interests of a child living with a foster family are defended by the court. The orphan’s courts, which in fact do not know the children living with a foster family, are entitled to decide issues related to children’s education and health care services.
The differences listed above show that guardianship is the most suitable form of care for children, since it ensures a long-term relationship, and a safe and clear future. At the same time the financial and moral support provided to guardians is comparatively insignificant. In order to reduce this inequality, activities carried out by the Latvian Foster Family Society are mainly focused on providing different types of support to guardian families.