Round table on foster care and family size homes for children

Round table on problems affecting family centres and small-scale children’s homes

On 16 June a round table was organised in Dnipropetrovsk to discuss problems affecting family centres and small-scale (family sized) children’s homes, organised by the charity “Pomogaem”. It had two parts: in the first participants included specialists from the region’s and city’s social services departments  dealing with families, youth and children, foster parents, as well as the director of Kyiv City Centre for Children’s Services, a psychotherapist, a paediatrician, a family mediator,  and a qualified trainer from the International Centre for Development and Leadership Viktoria Eidemiller, who has herself been a foster parent since 2002.

Over four hours, which seemed desperately little time, they discussed deprivation and institutionalisation syndrome among children in institutions, the stages of children’s development, and delayed emotional development. The purpose was to facilitate a constructive dialogue so as to ensure exchanged experience was used well in the future, to get specialists to listen to parents, and for trainers to pass on their experience so as to help parents. And for parents, as the last link in an unbroken chain, to get the best possible help from the trainers in caring for the children.

The second part was devoted to looking after cared for children, unable to be brought up by their own parents. Those invited included the deputy director of the partnership “Everychild” Zinaida Kianitsa and manager of programmes Larisa Striga. Participants came from the child care and education departments of local government. The concept of short-term fostering of children (“patronat”) is new in Ukraine, and the system has been pioneered in Kyiv region. Such fostering arrangements are common in developed countries. Quite recently it started in Ukraine as an alternative to children’s homes. The role of foster families is not just to care for the child until it is adopted or goes to another family, but to give time to the biological family to get its problems sorted so that the child can return home.

World experience shows that the best way is to support the biological family with professional help. Even in the most successful societies there are families who cannot manage their problems by themselves.  The priority for foster families is to have a more beneficial influence on the child than would be gained by sending it to a children’s home. These temporary foster care arrangements are usually for three months, and after that to return it to its family or decide whether adoption, longer-term foster care or a small-scale children’s home would be best.

Thanks to Everychild, host families started in Ukraine in 2009, first of all in Brovary, near Kyiv, then in Belaya Tserkov, and then in Kyiv. There are now five such families in Ukraine, while some others are waiting to be trained. So far this practice has ensured that 60 children in the Kyiv region have not needed to leave their families and enter children’s homes.

It is better to prevent children having to leave their families as was chronic in our society. We are looking for special people who are willing to help us, and we need financial support to develop this contemporary, effective, and high quality method of dealing with orphaned children in Ukraine

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