Russia lacks a legislative base for the support of those leaving children??‚??s homes

At the Central House of Journalists, as part of the Russian-Swedish project ‘Education of workers in children’s homes in Russia, Stage 2: Exchange of experience between regions – a year on’, a round table took place dedicated to the whereabouts of leavers of orphanages in Russia. In attendance were the Agency for Social Information and the Swedish Society for the International Child Welfare ‘Adoption Centre’, supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

 

Oksana Huhlina, an adviser to the Department of Normative-legal Regulation and Methodological Assurance of Activities for the Guardianship and Trusteeship of Minors, a part the Ministry of Education and Science, highlighted legal questions concerning orphanage leavers. In her opinion, there is a need to bring the question of ensuring accommodation for such orphans to the federal level. Currently this is conducted at the regional level, which receives subsidies from the federal budget. However, as the expert noted, the funds distributed are frequently inadequate.  For a temporary solution to the accommodation problem the ministry reworked the law concerning social housing for leavers and homes for the young. However, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice did not support it: the new housing code of the Russian Federation anticipates special ‘housing for separate categories of citizens’. This accommodation fund can be used to fund temporary habitation, including for leavers, but the funds are not taken from the federal budget, and there are few available lodgings. “Therefore, the idea really doesn’t work that well,” noted the expert.

 

In her words, support for orphans is spread out across various laws, which reduces the effectiveness of the work of relevant agencies. Federal law no.159 strengthened the understanding of a person who is a child-orphan or abandoned and states what benefits and guarantees such citizens are entitled to. The main article is dedicated to the question of education (a support grant during the period of education) and the protection of housing rights (provision of accommodation if no previous accommodation existed or it was lost). Also included in the law are general questions relating to medical care, job placement and professional training. As noted by Huhlina, in Russian law there is no united system that is orientated towards leavers’ adaptation. In accordance with article 55 of The Family Code of the Russian Federation, the guardianship and trusteeship of leavers of educational institutions is carried out by the guardianship agencies. “Sadly, there has been no developments in federal law, despite the fact that in the regions a solid, normative base has been developed for working with this category of children,” asserted the expert. The adaptation of such children who are living under guardianship/trusteeship, in patronage or in foster homes, is not provided for in federal law. “It is believed that those who leave families are 100% capable of coping,” she added.

 

In her words, support for orphans is spread out across various laws, which reduces the effectiveness of the work of relevant agencies. Federal law no.159 strengthened the understanding of a person who is a child-orphan or abandoned and states what benefits and guarantees such citizens are entitled to. The main article is dedicated to the question of education (a support grant during the period of education) and the protection of housing rights (provision of accommodation if no previous accommodation existed or it was lost). Also included in the law are general questions relating to medical care, job placement and professional training. As noted by Huhlina, in Russian law there is no united system that is orientated towards leavers’ adaptation. In accordance with article 55 of The Family Code of the Russian Federation, the guardianship and trusteeship of leavers of educational institutions is carried out by the guardianship agencies. “Sadly, there has been no developments in federal law, despite the fact that in the regions a solid, normative base has been developed for working with this category of children,” asserted the expert. The adaptation of such children who are living under guardianship/trusteeship, in patronage or in foster homes, is not provided for in federal law. “It is believed that those who leave families are 100% capable of coping,” she added.

 

  Huhlina also claimed that federal law no.48 concerning guardianship and trusteeship “comes to nothing” in the practice of patron care – which had been developing recently in the regions – and is actually replacing patronage with guardianship. The law also makes provisions for the special training of surrogate parents who are to take in a child. In law no.195 F3 concerning ‘the fundamentals of social service’ it is stated that the fundamental duties of social service are to offer support, provide social services and ensure the social rehabilitation of citizens in difficult life situations at both the federal and regional level. In reality, however, this law has not been put into practice. In connection with this the government passed a number of decrees dealing with the social refuges for children and teenagers, including orphans (social-rehabilitation centres, social refuges for children and teenagers, social refuges for orphans). In this way, leavers are straightaway ‘taken charge of’ by a number of structures – the agencies for guardianship and trusteeship and social defence of the population – thus reducing the effectiveness of help. As was underlined by the Ministry for Education and Science, at the federal level there are no laws that provide for work with leavers: power is carried over to the local authorities of the Russian Federation, where suitable programmes and ideas are brought in. Despite the fact that no legislative foundations concerning the adaptation and support of leavers exist, many public organisations involve themselves in this work. The director of the programme ‘Women and Children First’, Natalia Vladimirova, named a number of such NGOs, including the charity fund ‘Big Change’, the charitable centre ‘Destiny Complicity’, and educational centre ‘Roof’. However, according to her, NGOs don’t always have the means to work regularly with leavers or enough support from the government.

 

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