Non-Turkish children subject to discrimination and neglect, say foster families

Families who have fostered non-Turkish children said the children were subject to discrimination and neglect because of bureaucratic obstacles, the Duvar news website reported.

According to the families, most non-Turkish children had difficulties accessing education and healthcare as they were not registered and given an identity card. “Our biggest problem is that our foster children do not have an identity card, which makes it incredibly difficult to register them at school or get them admitted to the hospital,” said one family.

Moreover, the families said the authorities did not provide enough financial help to take of the children. In the event a child is sick, the families are reimbursed for less than half of their expenses.

“But it’s not only about the money. Hospitals often treat non-Turkish children as third-class citizens because they are not Turkish citizens,” said another family. “If we come across a good doctor everything is fine, but it so often happens that we don’t.”

Families who have fostered children with special needs said they felt neglected by the system and educational institutions. “We just cannot provide our children with the necessary support because we don’t have the resources. Children who have special needs have no access to education simply because institutions that work with their needs are very expensive,” said families.

One foster mother said being fostered was actually disadvantageous for children. “Before we fostered our child, the authorities had an agreement with a special needs school, and the child was going to that school once every week on a regular basis. However, when we fostered the child, they cancelled his registration. We searched for a school for months but to no avail,” she explained.

Neşe Gökalp from the Istanbul Foster Families Association said the only way to solve such problems was adoption but that this was also a difficult procedure. “International adoption is always a problem,” she said. “No country wants their citizen adopted by a family that has different citizenship.”

This explanation was confirmed by Ahmet Emin from the Ministry of Family and Social Services. He added that non-Turkish children were not eligible for adoption and were therefore fostered. However, he did not make any statement concerning the difficulties families experienced taking care of the children.

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