Parents of a child struggling with drug addiction say the Icelandic child welfare system is on the brink of collapse. The parents state their child has overdosed multiple times while being treated in a rehab facility run by the Icelandic Government Agency for Child Protection, leading to respiratory and cardiac arrest and trips to the emergency room.
The parents, whose 18-year-old child struggles with drug addiction, sent a letter to all parliamentary MPs this morning in order to draw attention to the system’s ongoing issues and the lack of options available for children 11-18.
According to their letter, the pair began speaking out about the system in 2016, to little effect. They state that authority figures at the Government Agency for Child Protection silence dissent within the organization and that its employees are afraid to speak out about the state of the organization. The pair points out many issues within the system, such as a lack of support services for family members of those struggling with addiction and a lack of an independent institution foster children can turn to in case of need. They mention cases of children institutionalized for hundreds of days without receiving any professional treatment. The letter closes with a call for help from government officials to provide children with the help they need and deserve.
Funi Sigurðsson, director of government rehab centres for youth says it appears children have easy access to hard drugs. “We need to take this seriously, definitely,” he states. Funi spoke to RÚV recently about the agency’s efforts to fund a new institution for youth struggling with serious drug addiction. The institution will aim to help youth get back on their feet after treatment and is considered a temporary solution while a new treatment centre is being planned in the Reykjavík capital area.