mental health on the floor and perpetual waiting lists dominate the service

Last Saturday, October 1, it was fulfilled one year since the opening of the National Service for Specialized Protection of Children and Adolescents (Better Childhood), based on Law 21. 302. The initiative is part of a longer process aimed at the complete dissolution of the National Service for Minors (Sename).

The idea, simple in its conception, was developed (and continues to be developed) to separate, on the one hand, the protection and restoration of the human rights of seriously threatened or harmed children, adolescents and young people, through the best childhood, dependent on the Ministry of Social Development. While, on the other hand, Service for Social Reintegration of Minorsdependent on the Ministry of Justice, which will be responsible for the “personalised and specialized intervention” of adolescents and young people accused of crimes, in addition to dealing with their social reintegration.

Sename, an organization which was responsible for both the protection of vulnerable children and adolescents and juvenile delinquents, will be permanently closed after Service for Social Reintegration of Minorswhich according to what was expressed by the Gabriel Borich government itself, will materialize soon.

Especially since it was news on Monday forced resignation from Sename National Director, Rosario Martinez, because of this last point. Well, the government would inform him that his resignation was necessary, claiming it was a “loss of confidence” in the professional hired by the Pinera government to run the office. This at a key moment for the promulgation of the new service, which is a legislative priority of President Gabriel Borich.

This is how things are, the Executive is preparing to start a new competition for Higher Public Management and to leave in the national leadership a person whom he trusts. This is a strategic role as she will be responsible for carrying out Sename’s transfer to the new body.

Best childhood: Much ado about nothing

Sename has been one of the great stones in the shoes of governments for the past 20 years, as this institution has demonstrated like no other total abandonment that exists towards one of the most vulnerable groups in any society, children and adolescents.

Despite the hubris with which the announcements were made of the new services that would replace Sename and take over once and for all the effective protection of children and their core issues, the reality today is different.

After a year of implementing Better Childhood, complaints about the institution only escalated. Service officials denounce that not only have the major holes of the previous system not been addressedbut In addition, problems such as waiting lists for outpatient programs have worsened. of children who have suffered violations, as well as access to mental health care for minors responsible for the state.

A critical mental health situation

On the first anniversary of the Office, National Intercompany Union of Subcontractors for Children and Youth (Sintrasub) conducted a survey on the current status of “Mental health care of children and adolescents in the private network of the National Specialized Service for the Protection of Children and Adolescents”.

The study aims to visualize through the experiences of people currently working as child laborers in various programs of the Private Protection Service Networkif current children and adolescents receive timely and priority attention in the field of mental health, investigation of aspects such as monthly frequency of care, maintenance and continuity of treating professionals, perceptions regarding the sense of satisfaction of fathers, mothers and/or caregivers, reactions of the system when there are psycho-emotional decompensations, program proposal before topics such as substance use, among other things.

The The conclusions of the study are lapidary. According to Mejor Niñez subcontractors, 85% of girls, boys and teenagers are currently in servicewho need mental health care do not receive timely or priority care. Likewise, a 70% of them who receive mental treatment receive only one attention per month.

The picture only worsens if we add to the above the constant change of treating specialists that children and adolescents suffer under the protection of the Office (87.5%).

The 71.4% of male and female workers believe that There is no adequate and appropriate provision of treatment for substance and/or alcohol useand that the one that exists is not consistent with the profile of childhood in a residential/outpatient setting.

Meanwhile, 92.3% of workers associated with the housing area indicate that health services do not provide satisfactory answers when there are decompensations related to mental health in minors.

Continuity of care in crisis situations, 95.8% of the surveyed teachers with direct contact believe that they do not have support from specialized technical teams to meet the needs of children fin the face of crisis events.

At least 14,301 children and adolescents on the waiting list for access to outpatient treatment

It’s along that same line protected resource raised by Ombudsman for Childrenwhich was adopted by the Court of Appeal of Santiago on September 22, 2022, v. Ministry of Social Development and Family, Undersecretary for Children and Office for Better Children.

The ombudsman denounced the organizations’ arbitrary and illegal inactions with their legal obligations to provide admission to outpatient programs for the thousands of children and adolescents on the waiting list protection of their rights.

IN Information gathered by the ombudsman shows that as of May 2022 there are 14,301 children and adolescents on the waiting list for access to outpatient treatment ordered by the courts of the country, in the context of the judicial application of protective measures in favor of their rights.

The constitutional claim has been filed following repeated requests made by the Children’s Ombudsman to these organizations since September 2021 with no response to report an effective solution to the problem.

In adopting this action, the Court of Appeals of Santiago directs responsible agencies to report the current number of children on the waiting listfrom deadlines associated with each program, and inform on which date they will make an effective payment to them.

Meanwhile, both the Children’s Ombudsman and Better Children workers remain aa pending answers and decisions so that concrete measures can be taken to allow access to programs, therapies and safeguards of minors and that the endless waiting lists are coming to an end once and for all. However, this is just one of many problems plaguing the service, and although it was touted with great fanfare as the solution to improving child protection in Chile, after a year of operation it still leaves a lot to be desired.

Banner made by children and teenagers from the Sename center in the Biobío region.

*This article is part of a series of reports that this outlet will publish on child protection in Chile and the Better Children Service*

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