The main goal of all the changes in organizations for orphans is the welfare of the children

30 july 2018

The Analytical Center and Elena and Gennadiy Timchenko's Charity Foundation are implementing a rroject aimed at improving the application of the law and development of methodologies to help improve the problem of abandoned children in the Russian Federation.

Last year a group of experts drew up proposes for how to refine the expert assessment criteria that are used to monitor the implementation of the Government of Russia's decree No 481 dated May 24, 2014 on the Activities of Organizations for Orphans and Children Left without Parental Care and on the Placement in them of Children Left without Parental Care. "Expert proposals have undergone legal assessment, systematization, structuring and adaptation for relevant requirements. Today we need to make the final amendments to the document and submit it for review to the Ministry for Education of Russia," said the Head of the Department for Social Policy of the Analytical Center Natalia Nikolaeva opening the round table at the Analytical Center.

"During the first stage of public supervision we saw how controversial the findings of the monitoring can be when they are expressed in scores and are based on formal criteria. A lot of organizations for orphans have maximum scores. Thus, 748 out of 926 such organizations, or more than 80%, got scores of between 800 and 1000 points. But that does not mean that they fully comply with the requirements of Decree 481. Such high scores are a result of the high qualifications of the experts that did the assessment and the desire of the regions to look good. Formal criteria are never enough and further assessment must be done from the point of view of the quality and content of these criteria," said Galina Semya, the co-chair.of the expert council of the Committee for Family Women and Children of the State Duma. 

Marina Lashkul, legal expert with the charity foundations Children are Waiting and Change One Life, noted that the work to improve the criteria was carried out by a group of independent experts with the support of the Analytical Center and Elena and Gennadiy Timchenko's Charity Foundation. "Earlier the monitoring found changes in response to Decree 481 while the new version emphasizes the content of the work that organizations for orphans are doing. So the approach to the assessment has changed as well. Now, we've identified three groups of aggregate criteria that reflect the key requirements, these are the length of time that children spend on average in the organization, the conditions that the organization have for children staying there and whether they are as close as possible to being in a family and the preparation of children and young adults for living on their own," the expert said. According to her, each of the aggregate criteria consists of a set of criteria that each have an equal weight. This is the main different from the previous version of the monitoring methodology.

"The goal of the changes that are happening in organizations for orphans must be the welfare of the children," believes Elvira Garifulina, Head of the Family and Children program of Elena and Gennady Timchenko's Charity Foundation. "So our foundation took an active part in these efforts. It's important than now kids will be included in the monitoring and their voice will be heard."

Tatiana Archakova, methodist psychologist with the charity foundation Volunteers for Orphans, believes that moving away from quantitative criteria towards qualitative, descriptive criteria, makes it possible to pay attention not only to the content of the work being done by an organization and improvements in the welfare of the children but also encourages dialog between the experts carrying out the monitoring, management and employees of the organization. 

According to the expert, the new version of the criteria has also changed the way the expert group is supposed to generate its reports, which now include two forms: a detailed analytical report for the public authorities and the foundare of the organization for orphans and the Ministry for Education, which includes quantitative indicators, general conclusions and recommendations.

Julia Zimova, the first deputy chair of the Commission for the Support of Family, Motherhood and Childhood of the Civic Chamber, noted that the next step in this work will be the education and training of experts that will carry out the monitoring using the new criteria. "A good tool has been developed, now it's important to train people that can use it," the expert said.

Natalia Zvereva, deputy head of the unit for standards and regulations protecting the rights of children at the Ministry for Education of Russia, supported the efforts of the expert group and noted that the proposed methodologies help create better conditions for children to help them fully realize their potential.