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Institutional residential care

Institutional residential care is a living arrangement where children are looked after in specially designated facilities. Several children are accommodated and cared for in the same facility.


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Key aspects

  • Five Member States set a minimum age requirement for children being accommodated in institutional residential care settings: Spain and Romania (3 years), Cyprus (5 years), Poland (10 years) and Hungary (12 years). In these countries, younger children may be placed in institutional residential care only as a last resort solution.
  • In twenty-three Member States, no minimum age requirements apply.
  • In Poland, institutional residential care is allowed when the child’s mother or father also lives in the same facility, and in some other exceptional circumstances.
  • In Portugal, although there are not age requirements, the law states that, preferably, children under 6 years should be placed in foster families. This is the case in other countries, too.
  • In several Member States (for instance, in Croatia and Ireland), the competent authorities’ and social welfare centers’ policy and practice is to try not to place children in institutional residential care.

The data explorer also provides information on the age at which the child’s consent is required for placement in alternative care, which also includes foster care. In twenty-one Member States, the threshold is set at the age of 18 years. Only Finland (12 years), Denmark (15 years), Portugal (12 years) and Romania (14 years) set specific lower age limits.

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Publication date: 19 October 2018

Minimum age requirements concerning children's rights in the EU - Specific data on social rights, employment, education, alternative care, LGBTI and mobility (406.5 KB)