EveryChild Ukraine: New Prime Minister's Implementing Order puts deinstitutionalisation of child care in Ukraine under threat
EveryChild Ukraine is calling for support from local and international NGOs for the Appeal against the Implementing Order of the Prime Minister of Ukraine, issued on 23rd of June 2010. This Order calls for revival and further development of childcare residential institutions in Ukraine.
In the Appeal to the Prime Minister of Ukraine released today, NGOs request to cancel the Order and create a working group of experts on childcare reform in Ukraine. In their opinion, the State shouldn't support an outdated and entrenched system inherited from Soviet times, which is more convenient for warehousing children rather than caring for them or finding families for children.
"Our request is based on a firm belief that the best alternatives for children are provided in a family environment where children receive individual care and attention. The state, communities, local authorities should support parents in fulfilling their responsibilities, and prioritise family-based options for orphans and children deprived of parental care. In addition, we believe that orphans and children deprived of parental care, including the gifted, should not be isolated, they have rights to study in general education system"- state NGOs in the Appeal.
EveryChild believes that instead of putting resources into new institutions, the focus has to be made on strengthening the family, scaling up support to families and overcoming their vulnerability which has been growing during recent years due to economic crisis.
Vasylyna Dybaylo, Deputy Director of EveryChild Ukraine:
«The Implementing Order signed by the Prime Minister contradicts the official State Social Programme "On Reform of System of Institutions for Children Orphans and Children Deprived of Parental Care" (adopted by the Government of V. Yanukovych in October 2007). The latter envisaged diversifying social services for vulnerable families with children, transforming, scaling down and closing residential care institutions, development of family-oriented community based services and further promotion of fostering".
She continued: "Working in Kyiv oblast for more than 10 years on blocking admission of children into institutions and getting them back from institutions to families or family-type forms of care, we are specially concerned with the following suggestions of the Implementing Order:
- to establish child care institution of new type for orphans and children deprived of parental care in Kyiv oblast (decision on place to be made by September 1, 2010) and to allocate funds for building this institution;
- request to oblast state administrations to facilitate the placement of children from low-income families for studying in established institutions and to re-establish by January 2013 functioning of pre-school departments at educational institutions for orphans and children deprived of parental care;
- to set up separate institutions for education of talented orphans and children deprived of parental care."
All mentioned above action points ordered by the Prime Minister are not in line with current policy priorities adopted by the government of Ukraine as well as goes against current obligations of Ukraine according to UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.
Ukraine inherited Soviet system of state orphanages established by Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of KGB, and strengthened by Nikita Khrushchev with "childcare institutions of new type" in 1950-s.
With the Soviet break-up, these orphanages (684) were left in a vacuum. Children from these institutions are often underdeveloped intellectually and socially, and are left with little hope of advancement of private sector employment after they leave. Many children were taken from their parents due to alcohol or drug abuse. Others are orphans of Ukraine's burgeoning AIDS epidemic that is being spread primarily by injected drug users, and frequently the HIV virus is passed from mother to child in the womb. It is all too easy for them to fall prey to a circle of crime, drugs, prostitution and prison. The hopelessness faced by the graduates of children's institutions promises a vicious circle for the future of crime, drugs, alcohol, HIV and yet more orphans.
Since 1991 Ukraine has made several progressive steps to improve system of childcare and move forward to European Standards of fulfilment of children's rights. Fostering and adoption outside the state system became more common, while state social services and private charities were increasingly providing support to multi-children families and single mothers is an attempt to keep children in families.
As for 2010, there were six times more children (8119) in foster care and family-type children's homes than in 2005 (1313).
At the same time reform of childcare in Ukraine has proved to be a difficult task, because of both resistance based on beliefs that the old practices should be maintained and vested interests of institutional workers in maintaining existing jobs and power over service users.
Despite a reduction in children's population since 1991, the number of children in institutions is rising. In 2007 there were 285,8 children out of 100 000 of children population in big state residential institutions, which is 41% higher than in year 2000. The aforementioned Implementing Order is a signal of changing priorities of state policy in favour of children residential care instead of family typed alternatives and prevention services.
Experts believe that existing resources envisaged for residential institutions should be reallocated in favour of prevention and alternative services, including responsible parenthood and development of foster care for orphans and children deprived of parental care.
Without planning with clear quantitative targets and an assumption that institutionalized children and children to be separated from parents are the priority groups at risk, eligible for alternative services, development of both, alternative and institutional care will continue to be parallel processes, indifferent to the excessive number of children in residential care.
To raise awareness on this issue EveryChild Ukraine together with local, national and international NGOs campaign to cancel the Implementing Order.
Please join us by signing the Appeal on behalf of your organisation (or group/network of organisations) and sending it to the Government of Ukraine. The texts of Appeal and the Implementing Order could be found at http://www.everychild.org.ua/ .
For comments, case studies or any other information contact:
Oksana Shved +38 067 234 60 97; +38 044 359 02 10, or Vasylyna Dybaylo+38 050 382 90 28
Note to editors:
- EveryChild is an international development charity working in over 15 countries around the world. EveryChild works with children who are, or are at risk of becoming, separated from their family or community. EveryChild started working in Ukraine in 1998 developing interventions at local and national levels which lead to the decrease of the number of children living in institutional care. In Kyiv Oblast EveryChild Ukraine works on prevention of child abandonment, development of new services - like emergency foster care family, an care-leaver integration services, pilots a gate-keeping mechanism - an innovative method of child protection, which direct children towards the services they need to stay together as a family. http://www.everychild.org.ua/
- Alternative Report on UN Convention of the Rights of the Child in Ukraine developed and submitted by Ukrainian NGOs to UN Committee on Rights of the Child in English is available here: http://www.everychild.org.ua/upload/library/Alternative%20Report_UNCRC_eng.pdf