Children’s Ombudsman plans one-stop information centre for parents
At a meeting with heads of foster parent organisations reported in Rossiskaya Gazeta, Anna Kuznetsova, Russia’s Children’s Rights Commissioner, spoke of a plan to set up an information centre where parents can go if they need help to deal with difficult family issues. Kuznetsova has since confirmed that work on plans to establish the centre is now underway.
The idea for the centre was suggested during the meeting by Diana Mashkova, head of the ABC Foster Family club which is part of the Arithmetic of Kindness charity. “We need a one-stop information centre where parents can go if faced with a range of challenging circumstances”, said Mashkova.
“We’re working on plans to create a centre which parents from any community can visit to obtain information on a variety of difficult situations ranging from “Where to send a helicopter to rescue a child” to “What to do and where victims of violent behaviour can find help”, said Kuznetsova.
The meeting referred to in Rossiskaya Gazeta focused on the situation of the Deli family as well as foster families in general. According to the Children’s Rights Commissioner’s Facebook page, Kuznetsova stated that there were differences of opinion between Government departments as to how important foster family issues should be handled – the police department disagrees with the care/guardianship department and vice versa.
“We’re working on all the key problem areas with the Federation’s Public Chamber and at working group level. An expert council has been convened where we’re liaising with representatives from relevant departments. Thank you for all your questions and suggestions. At the end of February, we’ll be publishing the results of regional monitoring work and analysing the issues raised, which will be set out in a report for the Russian President with some suggestions for possible legislative measures. For me, it’s been important for us to have had this conversation with you, now’s the time for action”, Kuznetsova added.
Kuznetsova also said that the Children’s Rights Commissioner’s office was ready to provide Mikhail and Svetlana Deli with all the help they need. “I’ve never for any reason sought to punish families. We’ll continue to help them, including Mikhail and Svetlana’s, no matter what. We’ll always strive to protect the family although, sadly, children have often been used as hostages by parents in recent times. We’ve been in favour of reuniting the Deli family from the very beginning. New information has subsequently come to light which has led to the involvement of the investigating authorities. It’s not for me to pre-judge the outcome of this case but if protection is required we shall certainly provide it”, said Kuznetsova.
In January, care authorities removed 10 children from a foster family in Zelenograd. The incident received widespread publicity, with some experts criticising the authorities’ actions. In light of this, Anna Kuznetsova called for a comprehensive review of the situation of foster families as a whole as a means of assessing the performance of care and guardianship authorities and to include an analysis of agency practices which could be regarded as excessive interference in family affairs. Elena Alyshansky, President of the “Volunteers helping child orphans” charity has said that NGOs are currently working on amendments to existing regulations relating to official interventions in family affairs.