The President of Ukraine has now issued a Presidential Order calling for the development of family support centres in communities nation-wide – an innovative model of delivering family-based support and family-based alternative care.
This legally binding Order, issued to the Council of Ministers, sets out an ambitious timeline to establish these centres across Ukraine during 2014 and 2015 and calls for a deeper understanding of institutional care facilities in Ukraine.
The need to establish family support centres nationally is undeniable. Ukraine has one of the highest numbers of children living in institutions in Europe. Nearly 70,000 children, including 5,000 babies are growing up in 636 institutions, and 800 babies are abandoned every year.
This Order follows President Yanukovych’s visit to the Ray of Hope Centre in Makariv, Ukraine where he announced that similar centres would be set up across Ukraine. The Ray of Hope Centre for social support was set up by NGO Hope and Homes for Children Ukraine alongside their project to close the Barvinok Institution. The Centre’s services are designed to provide support to families and replace the need for institutional care in the community which had previously relied on the Institution.
During the closure project Hope and Homes for Children Ukraine discovered that less than 10 per cent of the children who lived in the Barvinok orphanage were actually orphans – with most having parents or extended family living in the local community. Additionally, as many as 45% of the children had a parent who had been in institutional care.
The President’s commitment means that family support services will soon be available across Ukraine, breaking the cycle of dependency on institutional care.
Crucially, the Order also calls for changes to budgetary processes which will allow for the transfer of resources away from institutional care and into family-based alternatives, as well as a greater understanding of institutional care facilities for children in Ukraine and analysis of their cost-effectiveness. This is a crucial step in our goal to end institutional care in Ukraine, providing the indisputable evidence that institutional care is not only out-dated and damaging – it is not cost effective in the long term.
The experience of our partners across Europe demonstrates that institutional care systems are expensive, ineffective and hold back the development of services to support vulnerable families preventing their breakdown, and provision of family-based alternatives.
We are delighted that Ukraine has taken this important step towards dismantling its institutional care system.