Russia: call for review of authorities’ care for orphans
Anna Kuznetsova, Russia’s Children’s Rights Commissioner, believes involving NGOs in such a review would help reduce social tensions.
Kuznetsova has called for a thorough review of the general state of foster families as a means of assessing the performance of care and guardianship authorities. This would also include an analysis of law enforcement practices in what can be regarded as excessive interference in family affairs. “The integrity and inviolability of the family naturally involves special care and responsibility. This is why the principal task of social services is to look after the welfare of children. To this end, and in accordance with a Russian Presidential Order, working groups are being established by Regional Children’s Rights Commissioners”, said a statement issued by Kuznetsova’s office.
Earlier this month, care authorities seized 10 children from a foster family in Zelenograd. The family in question was raising four adopted children, eight foster care children and the mother’s own three-year old child. All the foster children had health issues. The reason that led to the children being removed was a statement by local kindergarten staff who discovered cuts and bruises on the body of one of the children. The incident received widespread publicity, with some experts criticising the Government agencies’ actions. According to Kuznetsova, a meeting of a special commission took place at Zelenograd’s social centre at which it was decided that it would be impossible for the children to be returned to their family.
Earlier, Elena Alyshansky, President of the “Volunteers helping child orphans” charity stated that NGOs were working on proposed amendments to current regulations relating to official interventions in family affairs. She expressed the hope that the case of the Zelenograd family, which was widely reported in the media and discussed on various social networks, might force the authorities to review the existing arrangements. The proposed changes, which are currently being discussed at working group level, will be submitted to Anna Kuznetsova’s office, the Federation’s Public Chamber and other institutions in due course.
The Public Chamber has proposed setting up regional groups to monitor instances of children being removed from their families. These will include representatives from Regional Public Chambers, NGOs, Regional Children’s Rights Commissioners, together with relevant Ministries and Departments. “We’ll be holding a “briefing” in the near future for Regional Public Chambers so that we can tell these groups how they can best operate effectively. For example, it’s extremely important that membership of these groups includes representatives from parents’ organisations and experienced foster parents”, said Yulia Zimova, a member of the Federation’s Public Chamber.
The Public Chamber also intends to set up a “hot line” for issues relating to the removal of children from their families which parents and children’s relatives can use if they believe the actions of care authorities are in any way unlawful.