Every Child Deserves a Family

Jeff Mowatt
Director
People-Centered Economic Development
Blogger
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With Euro 2012 now ended, is is perhaps time for Ukraine to count the cost. 

In 2006. It has been estimated that for an initial investment of $480 million and recurring annual cost of $324 million, 120,000 children can be provided with a family type home. In comparison $9 billion has been spent in preparing for this tournament.

On BBC4 last month investigative reporter Kate Blewett examined what a lifetime in the care of the state means to Ukraine’s Forgotten Children.

This was a cause to which UNICEF had turned a ‘wilful blind eye’ and where USAID had declared there was no budget.   The greater shame however, belongs to the British Council,  representing British culture and values overseas, who would brush the issue of these children aside, to hijack and dilute a project designed to help them.

This was a story deleted in 2006 from the BBC Community Action Network, for being  ‘inappropriate’.

It was a call for action in 2008, that the European Union are now trying to hide, but the web won’t allow that.

It was the primary focus of the strategy paper presented to Ukraine’s government in 2006:

“There is no substitute for a loving family environment for growing children. Existing state care institutions do not and cannot possibly provide this – despite occasional, lingering claims that state care is the best care for children. This attitude is a holdover from Soviet times when the state was idealized as the best possible caretaker for all, including children. Stark reality does not support that notion.

While this section has strong focus on financial aspects for reforming childcare in Ukraine, these are just financial numbers to demonstrate that this can be done for an overall, long-term cost reduction to state budget. That is to say, simply, this reform program is at the least financially feasible. The barrier between old and new is the cost of the transitional phase.

However, it is essential to not get lost in financial numbers and budgets. These are only important to show how this will work and will end up costing less money as the new program is fleshed out and the old program is closed. Most important is the welfare of each of these children. There are at this time, for example, numerous institutions across Ukraine where children die on a daily basis from little more than lack of knowledge about how to help them. The actual cost of helping them immediately is nothing more than one-day workshops for existing staff, to demonstrate basic, simple medical interventions common in the West. These institutions are generally closed to the outside world, difficult to access due to imposed secrecy, and are mostly in very rural areas where even the closest neighbors have no idea of the reality of these facilities.

The point, again, is very simple: to protect safety, health, and security of each and every child in Ukraine. There is absolutely no reason why this cannot be done. EveryChild’s research, published less than a year ago, provides an excellent starting point. Dzherelo Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Lviv has years of experience and available expertise in caring for severely disabled children. It is noteworthy that Dzherelo must rely on private funding because Ukraine’s state budget will not pay for or support a program that is in every way superior to official state care. Many of Dzherelo’s clients are able to remain with their own families, and are transported by minivan to and from Dzherelo’s modern care facilities for basic, periodic medical treatment such as physical and occupational therapy.”

(Terry Hallman - A ‘Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine )

Earlier that year it was Terry’s “shocking and insightful” article ‘Death Camps. for Children‘ which was brought to the attention of  Yuri Pavlenko, Ukraine’s Minister for Family Youth and Sport. A reporter asked him:

“Some charitable NGOs were shocked by horrible conditions our orphans live. These orphanages were called even “death camps.” Do you know about those facts? How many times the Youth, Sport and Family Ministry has held reviews of the orphanages?  “

By the end of 2007, Ukraine’s government had pledged to create 400+ rehab centres and with Yulia Tymoshenko then back at the helm, allowances for adopters were increased in line with his recommendations.

In his overview of efforts in Ukraine two years later, Terry described what needed to be done to tackle the root cause of the problem.   EveryChild and Holt International are the organisation recommended  – something he decides to omit from the public version to protect their interests in the light of an ongoing smear campaign

In October 2009.  Kyiv Post reported on the ‘Overlooked Success Story‘ of an increase of 40% in domestic adoption

“The Family, Youth and Sports Ministry underwent a revolution,” said Alyona Gerasimova, Country Director of Holt International. “You don’t have to fight with this ministry. We’re on the same page. The bottom line is every child should have family care, not in an institution.”

Everychild launched  their ‘Every Child Deserves a Family‘ campaign in 2009,  later taking a petition to UK Parliament and more recently with a focus on the US domestic situation, the same call is being made in proposals to  reform the failing foster care system.

Statistics

According to government figures, the total number of orphans in Ukraine is 96.000 (total number of children is 9 mlns)

Of these 96.000
- 10.000 are in foster families
- 63.000 are under official care of a state
- 23.000 are institutionalised

Annual state expenditure for one child ranges  from 7.000 to 12.000 hryvnas (8 hryvnas ~ 1 $US) depending on the child’s age and the type of institution.

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