Abandoned children found living alone in terrible conditions

The six children were abandoned by their next of kin after their father died

Squalor that is unbelievable in 21st century Malta: these are the rooms where the children, aged five and 15, were left to fend for themselves after being abandoned by their next of kin
Squalor that is unbelievable in 21st century Malta: these are the rooms where the children, aged five and 15, were left to fend for themselves after being abandoned by their next of kin

Six children abandoned by next of kin after their father died were found living on their own in horrid conditions, MaltaToday has learnt.

The children aged between five and 15 were living at the family home in central Malta, with the eldest sister acting as a mother to her siblings. The children were found living in poor and dirty conditions.

Social workers have been working for the past weeks on this complex case and last Thursday the children were put with a number of respite foster carers until arrangements are made for their long-term care as a family unit.

Alfred Grixti, CEO at the Foundation for Social Welfare Services, said the children had passed through a lot and the priority was to keep them together.

“No institution in Malta is equipped at the drop of a hat to take on six children together, which means that we had to obtain funding from the Finance Ministry to employ 12 full-time carers to be able to take care of the children around the clock,” Grixti said.

The children’s mother had been forced out of the home by members of her deceased partner’s first family and is herself in need of help. The same members reneged on their promise to take care of the children.

In circumstances like these, social workers normally try to place children with members of the extended family but this was not an option in this case.

Until temporary lodging arrangements were sorted with foster carers, social workers were visiting the children regularly and twice cleaned up the family home.

Grixti said the mother agreed to sign the papers to put the children voluntarily into care. “This means we will not be asking the minister to issue a care order. The children are now in safe places with respite foster carers and efforts are continuing to reunite them and ensure they live together in a safe and better place,” he added.

Social workers are also drawing up a long-term care plan for the underage family and individualised plans for the children.

“An overall plan is being drafted but we are also working on individualised care plans because the needs of a five-year-old are different from those of a 15-year-old,” Grixti said.

He noted that social workers were working round the clock on this exceptional case.

The welfare agency also had to deal with the misguided actions of a woman who flagged the case in a Facebook post and was soliciting help from families willing to take in the children. The Facebook post, which included photos of the children’s’ living conditions, was pulled down immediately after welfare officials reported the matter to Facebook and spoke to the woman concerned.

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