Preventing orphanhood in focus of expert discussion

30 march 2016

The Analytical Center presented its recommendations on improving the legislation related to the protection of orphans and children without parental care. These recommendations were discussed at the expert meeting organized in the framework of the joint project of the Analytical Center with Elena and Gennady Timchenko Foundation. During the event participants made proposals to improve the transparency of information about orphanhood in the Russian Federation. The proposals are based on the results of a survey of the expert community.

Marina Klishina, an expert of the Analytical Center, noted that while there is a common understanding of the need to prevent orphanhood and improve the situation with orphans and children left without parental care, there are “many differences about how the expert community sees the ways to achieve our goal”.

Ms. Klishina identified three main areas: orientation towards keeping children in birth families, legal regulation of the status of professional substitute families and the need to update the technologies of supporting orphans and children left without parental care. She emphasized that expert surveys evaluate positively the initiatives approved by the Regulation No. 481 of the Government of the Russian Federation of 24 May 2014 but their practical implementation leaves much to be desired.

Regions do not always correctly understand and implement the provisions of the Regulation, which results in distortions of the basic ideology embodied in the document. The implementation of the Regulation requires monitoring to facilitate fast and effective clarification of its provisions and to promote implementation of amendments and focusing on “child-friendly” results.

Elvira Garifulina, the program manager of Elena and Gennady Timchenko Foundation, called on all participants to promote the implementation of the provisions of the Regulation at their level. "In particular, within the framework of the Family and Children program we support the reforming of institutions for orphans and children left without parental care; we help the most successful institutions to become resource centers - training sites for those who are just commencing this path,” she exemplified the activity of the charitable Foundation.

Marina Lashkul, the Head of the regulation unit of the Department of State Policy in the Field of Protection of Children’s Rights of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, confirmed that despite the informational and methodological support the awareness of regional specialists remains relatively low. "We need to work with the employees, properly select them, train them and develop them professionally," she concluded. To this end the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia plans to hold training seminars on the reforming of child care institutions and preparing and supporting families in six federal districts. In addition, the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia together with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labor of Russia drafted the explanatory "three-party letter", which emphasizes that the Regulation includes in the concept of organizations for orphans all institutions operating in this field, regardless of their departmental subordination.

Lada Uvarova, the President of the Northwest Charitable Foundation for Children Without Parental Care “Children Are Waiting”, emphasized that the directors and staff of state and municipal organizations for orphans are mostly willing to change and move to more efficient forms of working with their wards. To enhance the effectiveness of implementation of Resolution No 481, Lada Uvarova suggested the monitoring of implementation of this document, under which “institutions may be evaluated according to the psychological state of the child.”

Elena Alshanskaya, the President of the Volunteers to Help Orphans Foundation, noted that the current operation of state and municipal organizations for orphans is financially very costly. In her view, segregation of some of the resources allocated to these organizations to be managed by specialized NGOs can help solve the problem more efficiently. 

Within the proposals to enhance the transparency of information about orphanhood in the Russian Federation, the experts highlighted the need and readiness to exchange professional experience and familiarization with the best practices to support orphans. To this end, Alexandra Omelchenko, program manager of Deti Nashi charitable foundation, called for developing an “algorithm” of publishing of materials on this subject. Developing this idea, Tatyana Podushkina, head of childhood programs evaluation activities of the Charitable Foundation to Support Children’s Cultural Development ”Childhood Culture”, stressed the need for a single center to classify these materials and carry out the review and selection of the best practices to be published.  

The key role of prevention of social orphanhood was the cross-cutting issue of the entire discussion. Lyudmila Sorokina, Head of ANO ”Partnership 4 Every Child”, emphasized that up to 70% of children in St. Petersburg orphanages were left by their parents. Marina Klishina especially emphasized that conceptual proposals of the surveyed experts aimed at keeping children in birth families included more support to families with children with disabilities. According to Elvira Garifulina, the relevance of this proposal is also confirmed by the fact that a lot of projects in this field were received during the Family Fairway competition.

List of Participants