Parliament is about to adopt on Tuesday a consensual bill on the protection of children which puts the end of the dry outings of the Childhood Social Assistance (ASE) at the age of 18, prohibits the reception of minors at the hotel within two years, and plans to better remunerate host families. The National Assembly will vote at the end of the day one last time, which will be worth validation by Parliament.
The right-wing majority Senate gave the green light on Thursday, by a show of hands. The left, however, abstained. The Secretary of State for Children and Families Adrien Taquet, who has been bringing the bill to parliamentarians since last summer, said he was “convinced” that it “will allow children protected by the ASE to prepare their future, to consider their autonomy more serenely and to fight against these inequalities of destiny”.
From the incomplete training of personnel to violence, shortcomings are regularly pointed out in the follow-up of these 300,000 or so minors. More than half are “placed children”, in institutions or foster families, the others benefiting from educational actions.
A priority for social housing
The LREM co-rapporteur at the Palais Bourbon Bénédicte Pételle boasts of a “useful” bill, “in line with the laws of 2007 and 2016”. To support young people aged 18 to 21 who have passed through the ASE, the youth guarantee will be “systematically offered to them”, then the youth employment contract in March, for the integration of those without employment or training. And they will benefit from a “right of return” to the ASE if necessary. “Progress” hailed by the group of child protection associations Cause Majeur!.
A quarter of homeless people born in France are former foster children. Young people leaving the ASE will be given priority for social housing. Mr. Taquet initially committed “that the State support the departments”, which have jurisdiction over child protection, “up to 50 million euros”.
It is the “responsibility” of the State
But according to Stéphane Troussel, president of the Departmental Council of Seine-Saint-Denis, the State, “in the incantation”, obliges the departments to “find the financial means themselves”. At the beginning of January, Emmanuel Macron pleaded for a future “institutional clarification”: “this responsibility (of the ASE) must fall to the State”.
Another key part of the text: it will be prohibited in two years to accommodate protected minors in hotels. “Between 7,500 and 10,000 protected minors are housed there today”, mostly unaccompanied foreign minors, underlines the rapporteur for the text in the Senate Bernard Bonne (LR). Until the ban, minors cannot be accommodated at the hotel for more than two months.
The bill also introduces “strict checks” on the criminal records of adults in contact with children, particularly in terms of sexual offences. Institutions must have a policy for preventing and combating mistreatment.
Family assistants, who welcome foster children into their homes, will benefit from a remuneration at least equal to the Smic from the first child welcomed. In addition, the possibility of entrusting the child to a member of his family or to a “trustworthy third party” will be systematically sought. Siblings will in principle be taken care of in the same place of reception.
A law that integrates “management of migratory flows” according to the left
In addition, each child will be offered sponsorship by volunteers, and follow-up by a “mentor” when entering college. At the judge’s request, the child may be assisted by a lawyer “when his interest so requires”. The juvenile judge may authorize the person to whom the child is entrusted to exercise acts of parental authority (such as taking part in a school trip), without authorization on a case-by-case basis.
Although favorable, the oppositions remain unsatisfied. The left also criticizes a measure concerning unaccompanied foreign minors: the use of the national AEM file (“support for the evaluation of the minority”) will be compulsory, in order to better identify young people who have filed applications for protection in several departments. For the socialist senator Michelle Meunier, that a law on the protection of the child integrates provisions of “management of migratory flows is not tolerable”.