Eric Delemar, new Children’s Advocate from the field



The Defender of Rights, Claire Hédon, finally made her choice official on November 13: Eric Delemar becomes, for the next six years, his deputy in charge of children’s rights. He now replaces Geneviève Avenard, who assisted Jacques Toubon in this position a few months ago.

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This promotion is undoubtedly largely unexpected for this man of the field, unknown to the general public as to many associations. A former specialist educator, Eric Delemar rose through the ranks of Social Assistance for Children, before becoming director of the Henri Fréville Childhood Center in Chantepie, near Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine), which welcomes 187 children placed from 3 to 18 years old.

Months of discussion

Will this appointment be enough to reassure the associations which, in recent years, have succeeded in bringing the cause of children to the political arena? The choice of Eric Delemar comes, in fact, after months of discussions between the Defender of Rights and Matignon, who were slow to agree on the profile sought. More than ten emblematic candidacies were thus rejected. Hence some concerns: would the choice of a stranger hide, in reality, a minimum compromise and a lack of ambition?

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“I do not know Eric Delemar and I want to give him all his chance, but the fact that he has spent his entire career at Child Welfare Services questions his real independence, begins Lyes Louffok, a former placed child, very involved in the fight against violence in the homes. Will he be judge and party? Will he be keen to support children in care or will he prefer to protect the institution? “

“We must have a broad political vision”

For her part, Marie Derain, former holder of the post, warns: “Having chosen a person who is completely linked to Child welfare should not lead to a technical approach to these subjects. Of course, the situation of the 200,000 children in care is a priority because they are the most vulnerable among the vulnerable, but the Ombudsman represents all young people in their right to be heard, educated, etc. We must have a broad political vision on all these questions. “

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Over the years, in fact, the children’s advocate has won real victories on various subjects, even if it means sometimes opposing the executive in place. Thus, Claire Brisset had obtained to change the law to push back the legal age of marriage for girls to 18 in order to protect them from forced unions. Dominique Versini had defended foreign minors against his own political camp. Last to date, Geneviève Avenard had tackled violence against children in institutions, strongly relayed by Jacques Toubon. “This voice should not be lost”, warns Marie Derain.

“Acute attention to respect for children’s rights”

Marie-Laure de Guardia Picquemal does not share these concerns. The president of the national group of public social and medico-social establishments (GEPso), which brings together more than a hundred hostel operators, knows the new manager well. “For ten years, Eric Delemar has been a member of GEPso. He is a man who pays keen attention to respecting children’s rights and respecting their word, she testifies. He will take a critical and competent look at the child protection institutions so often criticized. He is also a man who is on the side of innovation, of finding solutions to constantly improve practices. “

This is how he met Claire Hédon when she was at the head of ATD Fourth World. “He immediately supported the approach of“ crossing knowledge ”launched by ATD, remembers Marie-Laure from Guardia Picquemal. He brought it into the establishments we represent. Since then, we have been organizing discussions between professionals, children and their families, in order to better understand each other. It is a real enrichment. “

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