The justification for the additional state budget funding of 619 thousand euro allocated to the Ministry of Welfare suggests initially that the employees of the Ministry of Welfare and the State Inspectorate for Protection of Children’s Rights will carry out additional duties to prevent problems in the protection of the children’s and family law.
However, the State Audit Office found during the audit of financial reports of 2018 that benefits, cash prizes, or bonuses were in fact paid to officials for self-evident and everyday tasks.
When drafting the Law on State Budget 2018, the Ministry of Welfare was allocated an additional amount of 619 thousand euro within the framework of the priority measure “Capacity Building of Social Institutions and Social Programs in Protection of Children’s Rights and Adaptation of IT Systems Related to Those Measures” in order to facilitate improvement of services pertaining to children adoption and out-of-family care. One planned to use those means for benefits for extra work to be paid to the employees of the Ministry of Welfare and of the State Inspectorate for Protection of Children’s Rights (hereinafter referred to as SIPCR) involved in the measure.
The State Audit Office concluded during the audit that only 6.6% of the allocated funding was used for the initially planned benefits for extra work. The money was spent mostly on the payment of various types of remuneration to the employees from 13 departments of the Ministry, including the staff of the Minister’s Office, the State Secretary’s Office, Financial Management Department, Structural Funds Department, and HR Department, most of whom are not involved in the drafting and implementation of policies on adoption and out-of-family care. In addition, the funding was not used for benefits for extra work, but for the benefits for personal contribution and quality of work, cash prizes and bonuses, and even monthly salaries, holiday pay, and vacation pay.
For example, at least seven employees of the Ministry have received benefits for cooperation with the movement “Plecs”, which has been active in preventing that children are taken to childcare institutions over the last two years. The benefits have been paid for managing the problems identified by the movement “Plecs”, coordinating opinions, organising regular meetings, as well as providing communication for the implementation of the proposals prepared by the movement “Plecs”, etc.
Similarly, the employees of the Ministry have been granted benefits for personal contribution and quality of work, as, under increased work intensity, they should organise inspection at the childcare institution “Stikli”, summarise the results of the inspection, and discuss them with the Ombudsman’s Office at the meeting. The auditors emphasise that the Ministry of Welfare reacted only when received information about significant violations in childcare institution “Stikli” through the mass media. Previously, the Inspectorate and the Ministry had not found any significant violations in that childcare institution during their inspections.
The State Audit Office considers that talking about special achievements in the improvement of out-of-family care is premature. The conclusions of the expediency audit finished in March 2019 on the efficiency of the out-of-family care system illustrate that the supervision of out-of-family care domain by the Ministry of Welfare and the Inspectorate is inefficient and should be subject to substantial improvement. All the problems identified in the expediency audit confirm that the protection of children’s rights and family law has not been a priority for the Ministry of Welfare for many years, as many systemic problems have not been solved for a long time. Currently, the Ministry of Welfare and the Inspectorate have begun to carry out tasks that should have been completed long ago.