The Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, together with UNICEF and the Ukrainian Child Rights Network, is launching a project to support children who have been returned from boarding schools to their families through quarantine measures. The main objective of the project is to strengthen the social protection of these families and help them to ensure children get the proper care. The planned measures will be implemented through the training of social workers and the direct provision of humanitarian assistance to children according to their needs.
"Coronavirus has become a challenge and a test for the whole world. This is a test for the social services system as well because it is the area that should help the population cope with the consequences of COVID-19. We will use this crisis to emerge stronger: to strengthen the potential of social professionals, implement best practices and take another step towards deinstitutionalization and the reunification of children with their families," said Borys Lebedtsov, Deputy Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine.
Over the next six months, project experts will train social workers to monitor the situation of each child having returned to the family, identify their needs, respond quickly and provide the necessary support. After a detailed analysis of the situation of families, a roadmap will be created for each family in difficult life circumstances to which children from boarding schools have returned. The project will also provide social workers with personal protective equipment to guarantee their visits to families are safe during a pandemic.
The project covers five regions of Ukraine: Dnipropetrovsk, Volyn, Mykolayiv, Poltava and Kharkiv. One of the criteria for selecting regions was the number of children returned to their families from institutional settings.
"Across Ukraine, about 42,000 children, including children with disabilities, who were brought up in boarding schools and other institutions, had to come back to their families. These children and their families now need special attention and support. By joining forces and strengthening the child protection system, we strive to make every child feel safe, have access to quality education, basic social services, regardless of the capabilities of their family," said Laura Bill, UNICEF Ukraine Deputy Representative.
The best practices for the reintegration of children into the family, developed during the project in the pilot regions, are planned to extend to the whole of Ukraine. One of the results of the project will be the preparation of recommendations for 5 regional plans for the implementation of the reform of the transformation of boarding schools (deinstitutionalization reform). Also, based on the results of the project, amendments to regulations related to deinstitutionalization reform will be proposed.