SIP commentary: most recent amendmentsto the Special-purpose Act

The Sejm (Polish Parliament) adopted amendments to the Act on Assistance to Citizens of
Ukraine in connection with the Armed Conflict on the territory of this State. The amendments
concern unaccompanied children and also extend the catalogue of persons covered by the
Special-purpose Act to include those who have not crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border, i.e.
have not come to Poland “directly” from Ukrainian territory.

Key amendments:
– The requirement of “direct” arrival to Poland from the territory of Ukraine for persons
covered by the Special-purpose Act. Therefore, the Act also covers persons who have arrived
to Poland since 24.02 in connection with military operations in Ukraine, even if they did not
cross the Ukrainian-Polish border, but first went to one of the neighbouring countries, e.g.
Slovakia, and only then came to Poland.
– A candidate for a temporary guardian will make a declaration that there are no prerequisites
for him/her under Art. 148 (1) and (1a) of the Family and Guardianship Code, i.e. he/she
enjoys full legal capacity, has not been deprived of public rights and has not been deprived of
parental authority over his/her own children, and has not been convicted of an offence against
sexual freedom or morality or an intentional offence involving violence against a person or an
offence committed to the detriment of a minor or in cooperation with a minor, or a prohibition
on engaging in activities related to the upbringing, treatment, education or care of minors, or
an obligation to refrain from frequenting certain environments or places, a prohibition on
contacting specific persons or a prohibition on leaving a specific place of residence without
the court’s consent. The declaration will be made under the threat of criminal liability. 
– A person whose stay in Poland is considered legal under the Act will still be able to be
established as a foster family for a child in their care. However, the amendment adds that the
person will have to make a declaration that he/she provides a guarantee of proper exercise of
custody, is not and has not been deprived of parental authority and parental authority is not
limited or suspended, and fulfils his/her maintenance obligations towards relatives and is not
limited in his/her legal capacity or has not been convicted of an intentional crime. The
declaration will be made under the threat of criminal liability. 
 – The ICT system will maintain records of unaccompanied Ukrainian children who came to
Poland and persons who actually take care of them. It will also concern underage Ukrainian
citizens, who prior to their arrival in Poland were placed in foster care on the territory of
– District family welfare centres will be obliged to support social welfare centres, social
service centres or other organisational units in supervising the implementation of the rights
and obligations of a temporary guardian and will provide legal, organisational and
psychological assistance to temporary guardians and Ukrainian children under their care.

Our comment:
We should endorse the amendment which aims to extend the scope of the Special-purpose
Act to a larger group of people and to broaden this group to include those who have crossed
borders other than the Ukrainian-Polish border, but have ultimately found themselves in
Poland and wish to benefit from the protection of this country.

Referring to the proposed amendments to the Act on assistance to citizens of Ukraine,
attention should be drawn to the incomprehensible double supervision of the temporary
guardian by the commune and the district introduced in Art. 1 (1) (a) and (e). We believe
that this will result in a dilution of responsibility and no one will actually do the supervision.
If we introduce supervision at the level of the district, as an entity which has powers and
experience in controlling foster care, this duty should be removed from commune authorities.
Likewise incomprehensible is the construction proposed in Art. 1 (1) (a) (Para. 3c) and f),
according to which a temporary guardian shall have the right to a person for assistance.
He/she is not a foster carer, who has a direct entitlement to it from the Act on Family Support
and the Foster Care System. We believe that a more purposeful amendment would be to
entitle temporary guardians to act as foster families if they declare their willingness to do so
on the basis of Art. 27(1) already in force in the act on assistance to Ukrainian citizens.
While supporting the amendment proposed in Art. 1(1)(b), it should be noted that no solution
has been introduced in the case where certain persons have been appointed temporary
guardian pending the amendment, despite the prohibition in Art. 148 of the Family and
Guardianship Code. It should also be borne in mind that there is no path to
dismissal/resignation/change of guardians in the Act. However, it is worth emphasising that
any provision to increase the protection of children by introducing additional restrictions on
those who are to have direct custody of them is worth supporting.
Therefore, we support the introduction of registers of unaccompanied children as an
additional form of control and protection of minors from abuse.
However, we are absolutely opposed to the provision of Article 1(4)(c), i.e. the abolition of
quotas in institutional foster care (an amendment which has already been included in the
Act on assistance to Ukrainian citizens and has now been redrafted). This amendment means
that the whole process of deinstitutionalisation of foster care in Poland will be reversed by
many years, to the detriment of both the children who have been in it up to now and those
who are joining it.  It is essential that we do not lower the demanding standards of foster care
for children in Poland, including to the detriment of children fleeing from Ukraine. The
standards of care for children from Ukraine should also be adjusted to them. We propose
introducing a restriction, for example, increasing the limits by no more than half of the
children currently in the institution.

Link to draft text: