Mayor of Moscow approves concept of new ???Street Children??‚?? programme
A press conference has taken place at Moscow City’s Department for Family and Youth Policy. The theme was the ‘Street Children’ Programme envisaged for 2010-2012 approved by Yuri Luzhkovoi at a session of the city government.
The director of the Centre for the Prevention of Neglect, Crime, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and AIDS amongst Minors, Svetlana Volkova, said that no homeless children remained in the capital (they are accommodated in shelters or social rehabilitation centres) but the problem of neglect remains. Today the ‘street children’ have mobile telephones and pocket money but they lack education, and drink, smoke and use mind-altering substances. This category of minors is the subject of the above programme, which in contrast to its predecessor is designed to facilitate inter-organisational co-operation when a child is transferred from one institution to another. It is also tasked with eliminating double charging for one and the same operation by different departments according to the head of the Section for Inter-departmental Co-operation on Issues of Child Rearing of the City Department for Family and Youth Policy.
Another feature is the programme’s target group. Ms Volkova said that the specialists would be working not only with the minors but also with their families. Work would also be included with minors who are migrants with a view to their socialisation in the capital. Many of these fail to receive an education owing to their ignorance of Russian. In the ‘Street Children’ Centre in the Western Okrug (region) their number increased significantly in 2009. One of the programme’s priorities will be the prevention of neglect, working at the regional level.
Methods appropriate to dealing with juveniles will be applied. The network of specialists invited to engage in family welfare will be expanded; social rehabilitation programmes will be developed suitable for different departments. Ms Volkova said that the city government, the city branch of the ministry of internal affairs and the city branch of the federal enforcement agency had signed a protocol under which social workers would be involved in court proceedings in which juveniles appear.
Boris Altschuler, chief executive of ‘Children’s Rights’ told ASI that in some Russian regions, such as those of Moscow, Saratov and Perm, lack of co-ordination between departments had been overcome. A commission for the affairs of minors, invested with legal powers, has been engaged in facilitating inter-departmental links. However, it appears that the capital’s commission has not fulfilled that function despite having legal grounds for doing so. (See the Law of 24 June 1999 No 120 on Methods of Preventing Child Neglect and Juvenile Criminality’.) In these three regions there is now no problem in arranging for a social worker to work with a family in difficulties. For example, in Perm this is the province of specially trained experts in social rehabilitation. Only one percent of families do not get in touch because the guardianship authorities have the right to remove children if a family’s lifestyle constitutes a threat to their life and health. So within the framework of the new programme it is wholly possible for a social worker to be involved with a family, given co-ordination of that work by the commission. Mr Altschuler said that in Moscow such a system had not yet been set up. Another expert said that in order to get families and children to contact social workers it was necessary to train psychologists, specialists in conflict resolution and specialists in social work. It was also necessary to give the public definite information. They needed to know about the existence of such services. Great efforts were needed to win a family’s trust.