Organisation of child protection
The purpose of child protection is to always put the interests of children first. Child protection is ensured by means of national, local government as well as non-governmental bodies.
All institutions promoting the welfare of the Estonia population are involved in child protection. Depending on the sector of activity, certain institutions have assumed a greater role in dealing with children. Such government institutions include the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Research, and to a lesser extent the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of the Interior.
National child protection includes the management of children’s healthcare, education, work, vacation, hobby activities and social welfare. The state must ensure the necessary legislative drafting and monitoring, promote the area of child protection, develop action plans and take part in international cooperation. The state must also ensure the maintenance of children without parental care and organise international adoption.
In agreement with other ministries, the Ministry of Social Affairs as the body coordinating national child protection accommodates the contact point for unaccompanied and trafficked children.
The duty of county governments is to organise adoption, carry out monitoring of the quality of social services, and advise local government bodies in child protection issues.
The local governments have the main responsibility for child protection, managing the protection of children and the provision of assistance on their territory and ensuring the availability of necessary services to children and families. To manage child protection, the local government bodies have employed child protection officers or delegated the corresponding functions to social workers. In 2007, the local government authorities employed 155 child protection officers.
Further, non-governmental organisation play an important role in child protection, working with the central and local government authorities to secure the children’s rights and provide services to children and families. The major organisations in Estonia active in the area of children’s rights include the Estonian Union for Child Welfare, the Estonian Children’s Foundation, and the UNICEF Estonian National Committee.
As from 1 January 2009, the nationwide helpline for children - 116 111 - is available for notifying of children in distress.