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Vilnius authorities have pledged to work hard over the next five years in order to reduce the number of infants and children living in institutions. Only in the most exceptional cases, when foster parents cannot be found, will children be housed in an orphanage, Vilnius City Council reports.
No orphanages in Vilnius by 2020, authorities say
© Shutterstock nuotr.

Currently, there are around 330 children living in orphanages of Lithuania's capital city.

"Within several years of reforms, foster homes should cease to exist, or only remain for children in exceptional situations. Children have to grow up where they belong - in families and communities. The families and communities will get a full package of all the necessary social services. Families will receive actual aid, a foster network will be created, and infant orphan homes will become service centres. From the beginning, we will try to make sure that children do not end up in orphanages. We will invest to support families that have problems," Mayor of Vilnius Remigijus Šimašius says.

This does not mean, however, that all foster care institutions will be instantly closed, Vilnius City Council says. Larger orphanages will be divided up into smaller institution and remade to resemble natural community environments as closely as possible.

As an example, the Žolynas foster home has been split into smaller units where nine children live together in a family.

One of the reform goals is to encourage families to take care of children without parents.

Four orphanages are to be reformed in Vilnius: Residence for Infants with Development Delays, orphanage centres Gilė, Mintis, and Žolynas. During 2015, these four institutions will receive over EUR 1.6 million.

The five-year orphanage reform plan will require funds from the state budget, municipality, and the EU. The estimate is around EUR 2 million, Vilnius City Council said.

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