In Ukraine, the number of children in institutions increases instead of decreasing mainly due to poverty and the conflict situation in the east of the country. Services to prevent child abandonment are significantly absent and families place their children in institutions themselves. There have been some institution closures during the last few years; unfortunately they were not really closed but renamed or reclassified; however the quality and type of care in these institutions did not change. The key barriers to deinstitutionalisation are that; it is not a priority for either; the government and president or, the process of the EU-Ukraine integration; there is a low capacity level of child protection professionals in relevant agencies who will implement these reforms and finally social protection in Ukraine is a low priority for donors.
In Ukraine approx. 81.4% of children are placed to institutions from their biological families (National Audit, 2015). The main reasons to place a child in an institution is the lack of social support services for families in situations of extreme poverty or facing unemployment, the absence of access to pre-school or school, the lack of community-based services, and the lack of inclusive education services including specialist services for children with disabilities.
By the end of 2015, the official statistics mentioned 71,401 children living in 615 institutions. However, the National Audit of child protection system, conducted by HHC Ukraine showed that official statistics doesnt relevant to real situation. According to the data, received from Audit there are 99,915 children in 663 institutions (actual at 1st of September 2015).
During the last years, Ukraine has proceeded in the reform of its child care institutions. According to the data received from the directors of institutions, 345 of 663 institutions were “reformed” during 2010-2016 and 188 are planning to be reformed in the near future. The reality of the reforms are very different, it can be seen as a mere reclassification of the facilities, with the quality of care and protection remaining particularly low.
This is also reflected in the quality of care provided to children in institutions in Ukraine, which is very poor. The total annual budget for all institutions is 6.3 billion UAH (252 million USD) and from this amount only 10% is spent on children’s actual needs: food, clothes, and medicines; the rest goes to the salary of the staff, maintaining the buildings and administrative expenses. Even though the overall budget for institutional care in Ukraine is high, the quality of care and protection remains very low. Life in the institution implies neither permanent relations with professionals, nor personal care or personal space. According to latest statistics 1 carer is responsible for 33 children and there is only 1% of psychologists among institutions personnel.
This low quality of care follows children after they leave institutional care. Based on the results of the analysis of ‘Family’ institution in Dnipropetrovsk rayon only 6% of care leavers are successfully integrated in the society (13,5% were imprisoned, 37% unemployed).
FAST FACTS & latest developments
- In 2015 there were 99,915 children in 663 institutions in Ukraine.
- Out of these children, 27,142 are children with disabilities in 218 institutions and 13,165 are children with chronic diseases in 56 sanatoriums.
- 2,790 are children 0-3 years old in 38 institutions, making approx. 70 children per institution.
- In Ukraine there are only 4 small group homes mainly run by CSOs (principally, because of a lack of legislation supporting small group homes).
- Increase of approx. 28,000 children in institutional care in one year due to poverty and conflict in the East.
- Approval of the Order of the President to hold the survey on institutional care and prepare the changes in legislation.
- Hope and Homes for Children and its partners succeeded to include in the National Strategy for Human Rights Protection (2015) some paragraphs about the development of a DI strategy and action plan.
- HHC Ukraine is the coordinator of the Ukrainian Opening Doors Campaign which consists of 63 partner
organisations promoting deinstitutionalisation reforms countrywide.