The under 14 years of age for whom the Government of the Canary Islands declared their abandonment on a temporary basis He had not been going regularly to his educational center since the beginning of the course. In addition, after the months of confinement due to the pandemic, his attendance at the institute was very irregular. As in many other cases, the high level of school absenteeism was the trigger for the search for the adolescent to begin, who was finally located by agents of the Autonomous Police on Wednesday morning in a slum in the García Escámez neighborhood, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. He had had a fever for several days, was so weak that he could not walk or stand, and his lips were chapped, presumably from dehydration. According to the sources, the lack of collaboration on the part of his mother prevented the intervention of the public administration from starting earlier.
One of the sources consulted indicated that the minor and his mother arrived from Madrid in 2020. Until now, both and another relative had lived in a house occupied in very poor hygienic-sanitary conditions. And from the Community of Madrid, where he was also monitored for his school absenteeism, the Canarian administrations were notified that the adolescent could be in a complex situation, since in his previous place of residence he did not go to class regularly either. After being transferred to a hospital, it was confirmed that he suffers from covid-19. And yesterday it was planned that technical personnel from the General Directorate for the Protection of Children and the Family of the Executive would transfer him to an immediate reception center (CAI).
The house in which the Autonomous Police found the child was in terrible condition
The general director of Child and Family Protection, Iratxe Serrano, explained that, when the Police intervenes, “the situation already looks ugly”; that is, it is at a worrying level and shows that the family does not collaborate, as in the present case. Under normal conditions, when an educational center warns of a case of absenteeism, municipal staff must go to the minor’s home to make an initial assessment of the case and determine what actions are taken in this regard.
The general director of Child Protection admitted that the risk team of the Social Services of the municipal corporation “has not been able to work with the minor, because the mother has never agreed to it.” Sometimes, the parent assured that she was in poor health so as not to attend the meetings with the municipal technicians, which hindered the work of said professionals.
According to Serrano, there are times when other relatives of the parents collaborate to help the children in their development and schooling. But this teen’s parent lacked that support network. In the opinion of the general director, some parents are afraid that, with the first assessment of the risk team of their city council, their children will already be taken away from them; but this is not the case, since, in reality, a process is initiated in which it is assessed whether the corrective measures can be carried out with the child within his or her biological family or separated from it.
For Iratxe Serrano, With this minor, “article 11 of the Law was applied, which means that it is an urgent procedure.” The child found on Wednesday in García Escámez does not show signs of malnutrition, at least initially. But he did test positive for covid, which would explain his feverish state and significant weakness. Staff of the autonomous Executive have also required individual protection equipment (PPE) to be able to carry out the transfer and care for the minor while suffering from the coronavirus. In addition, a series of tests have been carried out, the results of which will be known in the coming days to find out her real state of health.
Sub-inspector Ramón García, of the General Corps of the Canarian Police (CGPC), clarified that the agents received very brief information and their objective was to locate him and find out what conditions he was in, since he may be in “an exquisite situation, normal or catastrophic, for example». From then on, the police consulted databases and collected testimonies from neighbors, among other things. After five days of searching, they managed to find him in a slum. They knocked on the door and the mother attended them through the window, since she initially refused to open for them.
The minor, already under the provisional guardianship of the Canarian Government, suffers from covid
Politely and skillfully, the agents explained the reason for their visit. And the woman allowed them access. The officials appreciated dirt, food remains everywhere, disorder and an intense stench, which passed through their masks. When they asked about the child, the woman said that she was sleeping because he had been sick for several days. In a room in the upper part of the house the child was found in the conditions described.
In theory they had already finished their work, but they decided to go further for the well-being of the minor, explained the deputy inspector. The agents of the Minors and Family Unit warned that the child’s condition was not adequate to their chain of command, which gave them instructions on how to act, to the Juvenile Prosecutor’s Office and to the General Directorate. And they also asked the 1-1-2 room to send an ambulance so that the minor could be transferred to a hospital. The canarian government yesterday decreed his provisional abandonment. From now on, an assessment will be made to determine if that measure is revoked or confirmed, which would imply the withdrawal of parental authority from the mother.
More than 1,600 protected minors in the Canary Islands
The general director of Protection of Children and the Family of the Canarian Government, Iratxe Serrano, explained that cases such as the one detected last Wednesday by the Autonomous Police are punctual. According to data from December 31 of last year, in the Archipelago there are 1,613 minors residing on the islands who are protected by the Ministry of Social Rights, specifically by the department headed by Serrano. Of that total number, 908 belong to the province of Las Palmas and the remaining 705, to that of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Of the global figure, 56 percent is taken in by families who, on a voluntary basis, collaborate with the General Directorate. 40 percent reside in shelters. And the remaining 4 percent is in custody for adoption. To this figure must be added the unaccompanied migrant minors or in a situation of abandonment, who already add up to 2,800 and who are also protected by the regional government. Iratxe Serrano considers it very positive that there are more children fostered by families than in resources managed by the public administration or “institutionalized”. And she comments that “this very good data” began with the previous government team of the regional administration.