The bill focuses on the protection of children in France. In France, more than 300,000 children are under the care of the “Aide Sociale à l’Enfance” (ASE). To improve their daily life and the respect of their fundamental rights, a legislative proposal “on child protection” was adopted by the National Assembly on 8 July 2021.

What is child protection?

Child protection aims to guarantee the health, safety, morality and education of minors and to support their physical, emotional, intellectual and social development when these are compromised or threatened. It is implemented at a departmental level by the child welfare services (ASE) and includes preventive actions, the identification and treatment of situations of danger or risk, as well as support measures for minors and their families facing difficulties in protecting children.

A distinction is made between home-based educational measures and the care of children who cannot remain in their families for various reasons. The ASE can also support emancipated minors and adults under the age of 21 who are facing family, social or educational difficulties.

What is at stake in the bill?

The bill is the result of several months of consultation with representatives of families and children, social workers and departments. It was led by Adrien Taquet, Secretary of State for Children and Families, reporting to the Minister for Solidarity and Health.

Its objectives are to modernize the national governance of child protection, to improve the daily lives of children under the care of the ASE and to better protect them against violence, to secure family assistants job and the role of foster families. It was even more urgent to act as the number of unaccompanied minors is on the rise in the country and several cases have revealed institutional abuse, failures in the follow-up by social services as well as risks linked to the lack of reception places and the accommodation of children in social hotels.

The key measures of the project:

  • Creation of a single national body to assist the state and departmental councils;
  • Checks on the criminal records of adults in contact with children, particularly in relation to sexual offences, and periodic checks of the criminal records of ASE professionals;
  • Systematic research by the social services into the possibility of entrusting the child to a member of his or her family before placement in the framework of the ASE;
  • Relaxation of the rules of parental delegation to facilitate the daily life of children placed in care regarding everyday acts;
  • Minimum remuneration for family assistants from the first child taken in;
  • Principle of bringing brothers and sisters together in the same place of care (non-separation of siblings) unless this is harmful to the children;
  • Improve support for young people leaving care when they come to age;
  • Prohibition to host children in hotels (except in exceptional cases and for a maximum of two months).

CAMELEON welcomes these improvements and the government’s proactive policy to guarantee every child the same opportunities and rights. However, we regret that a measure requested by many child protection associations has not been adopted: the compulsory presence of a lawyer for young people in the care of the ASE to explain the procedures and defend their interests (particularly in cases of intra-family violence). The assistance of a lawyer is currently possible but not systematic and must be requested by the judge, the minor or his/her legal representatives. This procedure is still little used and little known by young people and children.

We also call for these commitments by the State to be accompanied by an increase in the dedicated budget that is commensurate with these issues and in particular to increase the capacity of child protection centers. These children and young people are among the most vulnerable in our society and need more ambitious means to enable them to grow up with dignity, in a world without violence and in respect of their rights.

To know more

To understand the legislative proposal in 3 minutes, discover the explanations of Florence Provendier, Member of Parliament in the Hauts-de-Seine and former Vice President, member of the Board of Directors of CAMELEON, who is very committed to children’s rights:

Access the full text of the project: HERE (french)