Turkey's Family Ministry reaches out to thousands of children working on the streets
The Family, Labor and Social Services Ministry has been working to protect and reintegrate thousands of children into society who work or are forced to work on the streets.
As part of its mission, the ministry is cooperating with the police force, provincial directorates of education and municipalities.
The main aim of the ministry’s work is to take the children off the streets and to raise awareness among the public.
A body has been set up called the Street Children Commission with officials from the police force, directorates of education, municipalities and the office of muftis.
Some 117 mobile units have been established that have reached out to a total of 7,965 children, who do risky jobs, such as selling paper tissues on the streets or cleaning windshields of cars at traffic lights to earn money.
Some of those children are forced to beg on the streets and those units act to stop this criminal practice.
Experts from the ministry try to take those children off the streets by persuading them to enroll in vocational schools. They also help children working on the streets to receive psychosocial counseling. Experts help children with drug addiction to be rehabilitated and try to convince them to return to their families and get off the streets.
The works, coordinated by the ministry, are mainly family-focused. Under the initiative, the ministry helps those children and their families benefit from public health, education and other social services.
Experts hold one-on-one interviews with the children to assess their conditions.
The families of 1,965 children have received support through Social and Economic Assistance or other social aid foundations to date. Counseling services have also been provided to those families.
Families are entitled to receive social and economic support under the condition they will not force their children to work on the streets and their children will continue their education. Officials also warn the families that if they send their children to the streets to work, criminal complaints will be filed against them.
Officials have taken legal action against the families of 231 children.
Social services centers operating under the ministry provide vocational training to those children to prevent them from returning to the streets to work.
Children who do not have a family have been put under protection.