Saturated reception systems, strategic management and insufficient means: the General Inspectorate of Social Affairs (Igas) issued a critical report on Tuesday on social assistance for children (ASE) in the Bouches-du-Rhône, a department which presents “very high risk factors for the vulnerability of children”.
In this report produced in early 2022 and published on Tuesday, Igas notes the difficulties of the ASE, managed by the services of the department, but also recalls that the latter “faces difficulties which it cannot resolve alone, and which require a clear mobilization of all actors”, including the State.
Emergency reception completely overwhelmed
Fragility of family structures, extreme poverty (the poverty rate sometimes exceeds 65% in the inner city of Marseille), tensions over housing, violence, insecurity, drug trafficking, prostitution: the list of evils that threaten minors in difficulty this department of the South-East of France is long, recalls the institution.
Concretely, the Igas deplores in particular that “all the reception systems (are) saturated”. The occupancy rate reaches more than 98% in permanent establishments and even exceeds 100% for emergency reception. As for the rate of family reception, despite the department’s efforts in this area, it is the lowest in France.
On the other hand, the department was able to resolve the crisis born of the rapid and growing influx of unaccompanied foreign minors (MNA) between 2016 and 2019, a period during which the number of these minors welcomed by the department rose from 414 to 1,074, acknowledges the Igas.
But “the resorption of these difficulties has not however resolved the tensions on the protection system that existed before the crisis”, deplores the institution: the “means committed still seem too limited”, which leads to under-investment in terms of prevention and educational action and the allocation of “modest” resources to the authorized associative sector responsible for the execution of the measures, she considers in particular.
“Malaise” of social workers
Referring to the “unease” expressed by the stakeholders questioned during its investigation, the Igas rapporteurs underline that it also refers “to the intensity of the social difficulties of the department, to which an increase in resources or a simple improvement of the organization will not be enough to respond”.
Recognizing that “many actions have been initiated by the department since the inspection report”, the Igas advocates in particular in conclusion a “strengthening” of the strategic management and control of childcare facilities (where the material conditions or hygiene are sometimes “unsuitable”), better mobilization of families to “deinstitutionalize” child protection, or even a clarification of the role of stakeholders.
“Child protection is a particularly sensitive and complex area, in which public action is faced with a permanent challenge of adaptation and improvement”, replied the president of the department Martine Vassal in her response to the report of the Igas.