The “Right of minors to a family” Act of 1983 (n°184/1983), introducing the concept of foster care in Italian law, has been modified on March, 28th, 2001 (n° 149/2001).
The 2001 modified Act reaffirms and underscores some fundamental principles of the institution of foster placement, including:
– Its temporary nature;
– The centrality of the minor’s best interests and the importance to maintain (when possible) a child’s ties with its birth family;
– The need for a harmonic cooperation between social services, the networks of associations, and volunteer families;
Click here for the complete text of the Act (March, 28th, 2001, n°149).
National and regional guidelines
In 2013 the Italian Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare has issued guidelines for foster placement that reflect the long-standing commitment and involvement of many subjects concerned with these practices.
The goal was to provide orientation for local initiatives in the interest of officials and technicians, but also in that of the public in general. Said framework does not replace regional laws, but provides indications and methodologies that require a constant monitoring.
The Ministry’s guidelines restate and reinterpret some of the fundamental principles of foster placement and foster care:
– The minor’s best interests;
– The precautionary function of foster care, insofar as placement constitutes an alternative to the removal of a child from its birth family;
– A positive view of foster care and the person’s ability to regain competence and trust.
Click here for the complete text of the complete text of the 2013 national guidelines.
Regional Guidelines on foster placement have been issued by the regional authorities of Lombardy in 2011. Like national guidelines, these recommendations are meant to provide useful indications for all the parts involved in fostering projects. These regional guidelines, even more so than their national counterpart, insist on the need to rethink organizational models, both in public service and in cooperative endeavors involving public and private subjects, for a more efficient service in the interest of minors and their struggling families. All must cooperate sinergically in a spirit of mutual respect in the name of the supreme principle of the minor’s best interest.
Click here for the complete text of the regional guidelines.
Notes on international law
A Convention on the Rights of the Child was approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations on November, 20th, 1989. It constituted the first comprehensive and coherent formulation of the fundamental rights of every child in the world. Its mainstay are the following four principles:
a) Non-discrimination (art. 2): the rights stipulated by the Convention are guaranteed to all minors, regardless of race, gender, language, religion, and their or their parents’ opinions.
b) Best interests (art. 3): In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
c) Right to life, survival, and development (art. 6). Every State needs to employ a maximum of resources (including cooperation with other States) to protect the life and ensure the healthy development of children.
d) Relevance of the minor’s views (art. 12). Children have a right to comment on all decisions concerning their future, and their opinions need to be taken into account. Conversely, adults have an obligation to care at all times for what a child has to say.
The Italian Republic has ratified this Convention on May, 27th, 1991 (Law n°176/1991)
Click here for the complete text of the UN Assembly’s Convention on the Rights of the Child.