With the rapid spread of the COVID-19 epidemic in Lithuania, cases of hospitalized parents leaving their children unattended are already occurring.
The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service (WACC) urges all parents not to panic, but to prepare for a potential emergency scenario – to predict who would care for their children while they were being treated in hospital.
Gedas Batulevičius, head of the Vilnius City Children's Rights Protection Division, says two cases of this nature have already been encountered in the capital.
“We already had two situations in Vilnius with children and the virus. One situation was with a foster child. Another case came from the family. We learn that a nine-year-old child is left alone at home for a day and a half. The situation was this: Mom felt the symptoms, the ambulance arrived, took her out, did the research, it took a very long time, and finally she got a positive response. Unfortunately, in this situation, the woman did not announce that her son was alone at home, ”said Batulevičius.
According to him, the child's rights defenders found relatives who had taken care of the child during medical contacts with the child's mother.
“We called with the doctors to transport the child to the place of self-isolation and at the same time with the help of the doctor and my mother we were looking for someone who had contact with her, who had to isolate her too. We managed to find a relative and place the child at the relative who will continue to take care of the child, ”said G. Batulevičius.
According to G. Batulevičius, it is important that people have thought about such cases, because in a critical situation the child would be under additional stress. It is important to foresee what, if any, care should be taken in the best interests of the child. It is emotionally safest for a child to stay in their place of residence. All contact phones must be provided, with a possible action plan. The child must have a daily rhythm set in advance so that he knows where he is and what needs to be done. Then, in a crisis situation, it would be easier for him.
Because of crown children who are to be quarantined by the virus, if not cared for by relatives, would be accommodated by age group in Vilnius, according to the decision of the municipality: up to three years in the family center “Šeimos slėnis” and between three and 18 years. Where appropriate, children would be assisted by psychologists and other professionals.
“There can be no cases of 'concealment' of a child. All children will certainly be taken care of. It is important to emphasize that this is a temporary procedure until parents return from the hospital, and that isolation facilities are not care or crisis centers. These are places for children who may have been in contact with the infected crown their parents are in hospital, they are being treated in hospital, and there are no other persons close to the child who can take care of it, ”stressed G. Batulevičius.
He also stressed that parents must anticipate who would be in contact with their children in the near future if they were unable to do so themselves.
“There may not be relatives who can take the child, who can come to the child's place of residence, but it is very important that somebody keeps in touch with that child by telephone and other means of communication. Because perhaps health will prevent parents from doing so.
Therefore, there should be other relatives who would support the child and communicate with him, ”said Batulevičius.