About crisis assistance to children and families

In the Czech Republic, assistance to children in crisis is addressed by the Social Services Act (Act No. 108/2006 Coll., Social Services Act). This law regulates the conditions for assistance to people who found themselves in an unfavorable social situation. As a result, the Czech Republic has a network of social services which aims to assist families and children who found themselves in a situation of crisis. This involves the social service of crisis assistance which is defined as providing help to people who found themselves in an unfavorable situation or crisis that they cannot address using their own means. Crisis assistance is psychological and social aid provided to such a person. The social service of crisis assistance can be established by NGOs, individuals, municipalities and regions.

Assistance to families and children in crisis situations falls under social services which are preventive in their nature. The goal of a specific service is to help a selected individual by overcoming unfavorable situations and to avoid social exclusion. Such assistance can be carried out as field assistance (provided at the family environment), outpatient assistance (provided at facility through regular visits) or residential assistance (person is provided accommodation, food and professional assistance).

Social services that can be used in assisting children and their families in crisis include:

  • Telephone crisis assistance (emergency line)
  • Crisis assistance (crisis centers)
  • Temporary accommodation services
  • Half-way houses (houses to jump-start return to normal life)
  • Intervention centers
  • Social activation services for families with children

Each social service employs professionals who have to meet certain educational requirements. These may include psychologists, special educators and social workers. Social services must be registered which ensures that they meets the set rules and quality standards.

Some social services are provided free-of-charge while others are paid-for. Social services are targeted at a specific group of people and dedicated to helping them.
Social service providers work with other state institution in cases of families or children in crisis. These can be child protection services or courts. Protection of children in crisis is not addressed only by the Social Services Act but also by the Social and Legal Protection of Children Act (Act No. 359/1999 Coll., Social and Legal Protection of Children Act). This law lays out the options for working with children who have found themselves in danger or in a situation of crisis. The Social and Legal Protection of Children Act also lays out other options of assistance to children in cases of endangerment (except for social services). These primarily include service for children requiring immediate assistance – temporarily providing housing for children who found themselves in danger or in cases when their own parents are unable to care for them.