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Under fire Child protection authorities call for support

Separating children from their parents is difficult for everyone involved


Responding to mounting public criticism of KESB, the social protection programme for children and adults which was reorganised in 2013, leaders of three cantonal agencies defended their staffs and positions in interviews with the Swiss press on Sunday. 

The head of KESB Bern, Patrick Fassbind, told the Schweiz am Sonntag that it is time for the Swiss cabinet to step in. “We’ve been left standing out in the rain,” he said. The government and parliament wanted the new system, but “instead of supporting it, some [politicians] have jumped on the bandwagon of KESB-bashers, and the others are keeping quiet”. 

Fassbind said support from the government is needed in the form of an information campaign to explain why the system of lay counselors was replaced by a system relying on professionals. 

In recent months there have been several high-profile accounts in the media of tragedies that occurred after children were removed – or not removed – from their parents’ care by KESB. 

According to Jürg Lienhard, head of KESB Aargau, the agency often cannot speak out in response to public criticism because family law requires that details of cases remain private. Thus often only one perspective is reported. 

“Online, frustration can be easily and anonymously communicated,” said Lienhard in the Schweiz am Sonntag. “The criticism is unjustified, and it hurts.” 

Likewise, Ruedi Winet of KESB Zurich told the SonntagsZeitung that the negative publicity surrounding KESB cases in recent months has been difficult for his staff, who have become leery of divulging where they work.  

“People are closely affected by our decisions,” he said. We’re talking about fundamental questions about your children, your freedom to choose. KESB has the ability to make decisions that change lives drastically. I can understand that that leads to strong reactions.” and agencies

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