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Latvian municipalities ready to help children meet their parents in prison

Children of convicts are an especially endangered social group and local governments want to aid them any way they can

  • April 03, 2020 11:30
  • Author Anton Stoyanov
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Children whose parents are serving out prison sentences are more often than not sent to foster homes or to live with their other relatives. As a result, they suffer greatly from the drastic lifestyle changes and the other accompanying events. That is why the Council of Europe recognizes the children of prisoners as an especially vulnerable group – alongside migrant children and ones with disabilities.

Yet, in Latvia, these kids have no special status – thus there is no data how many of them are currently out there. For years ago, the Latvian Ombudsman’s office embarked on a journey to find the best way to help these struggling kids and to develop an approach to their societal integration.

Municipal solutions

In most cases, the guardians of foster families of such children refuse to allow the kids to visit their parents in prison. On the one hand, they see that as pointless or even dangerous, and on the other, they consider the financial aspect – for example, there is only one women’s prison in Latvia – the one in Riga, and children from all around the country must travel to the capital in order to see their moms.

This was the main problem that the Ombudsman’s office went about resolving and reached out to the country’s municipalities. Of the 119 Latvian local governments, 114 responded in the affirmative to an inquiry sent out by the Latvian Ombudsman on whether the municipalities would be forthcoming in financing the trips of children to prisons in order for them to meet their parents.

Yet while municipalities appear ready to help their kids, they are also eager to point out that this is not an issue that should ultimately be resolved on a local level – rather it needs a national approach that would lead to the betterment of the lives of Latvia’s children.

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