NGOs and child protection

The NGO sector can
act as a catalyst for the establishment of child protection programmes

The European
Commission Board has held its annual conference on the human rights situation
in Russia. Participants discussed the rights of children. The aim of the
international forum entitled ‘Children’s rights – human rights?’ was to raise
awareness of the need to consolidate the efforts of the Russian government,
civil institutions, and the professional community in creating a fully-fledged
child protection system.

According to the
European Commission each year 60,000 young Russians become social orphans
[1], of these, 20,000 (from birth to two years)
end up in a government institution. Bertran Beinwel, head of the UN Children’s
Fund (UNICEF) branch in Russia stated in his report that rates of child
abandonment have remained at the same level for a long time. In his view this
shows that Russia does not have an effective support system for families at
risk. In the course of the conference participants noted that living in a
children’s home is not conducive to a child’s emotional and psychological
development, moreover it does not sufficiently prepare a child for adult life.
Therefore, it is crucial to keep the family together, and the efforts of
government and society must be directed towards this aim. Furthermore, the
development of the foster care and foster family system should be encouraged.
Alina Plotnikova, representative of the Yekaterinburg based NGO ‘Families for
Children’ believes it is necessary to develop a social orphanage prevention

In children’s homes
children should not be left alone for long periods of time without adult
contact, otherwise the child begins to fall behind in his development; social
workers must make regular visits to foster families; foster families must
undergo training; and children leaving children’s homes should be taught skills
for adult life. 

The conference
delegates came to the conclusion that the NGO sector can act as a catalyst for
the establishment of child protection programmes. NGOs can introduce effective
social programmes into government institutions. In particular, they can provide
temporary accommodation for mothers in need. For eleven years ‘Families for
Children’ has been working on preventing social orphanage in the Sverdlovsk

Translated by Lina

[1] Social orphan – a child who has no adults looking after them, even though one or more
parents are still alive. Usually the parents are alcoholics, drug abusers, or
are simply not interested in the child.

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